Middle-aged smokers are much more likely to report experiencing memory loss and confusion than non-smokers, and a new study has found that cognitive decline is less likely for those who quit even recently.
The Ohio State University study is the first to examine the relationship between smoking and cognitive decline using a one-question self-assessment that asks people if they experience worsening or more frequent memory loss and/or confusion.
The study’s lead author, Jenna Rajczyk, said the findings build on previous research linking smoking to Alzheimer’s Disease and other types of dementia, and could point to an opportunity to identify signs of trouble early in life. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Rajczyk, a PhD student at the Ohio State College of Public Health, and senior author Jeffrey Wing, is further proof that smoking cessation is not only good for respiratory and cardiovascular reasons, but also for maintaining neurological health. epidemiology.
“The association we saw was most significant in the 45-59 age group, suggesting that quitting smoking at this stage of life may have a benefit for cognitive health,” Wing said. No similar differences were found in the oldest group in the study, which may mean that quitting earlier gives people more benefits, he said.
The data of the study was taken from the national 2019 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.
It allowed the survey and research team to compare measures of subjective cognitive decline (SCD) for current smokers, recent quitters, and years ago quitters. The analysis included 136,018 people aged 45 years and older, with approximately 11% reporting SCD.
The prevalence of SCD among smokers in the study was almost 1.9 times higher than among non-smokers. The prevalence among those who quit less than 10 years ago was 1.5 times higher than among nonsmokers. Those who quit smoking more than a decade prior to the study had a slightly higher prevalence of SCD than the non-smoker group.
“These findings may imply that the time since smoking cessation is significant and may be linked to cognitive outcomes,” Rajczyk said. Said.
Being a relatively new measure, the simplicity of the SCD could make it suitable for broader applications, he said.
“It’s a simple assessment that can easily be done routinely, and it’s typically at a younger age than when we start seeing cognitive declines that escalate to the level of a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia,” Rajczyk said. “It’s not a dense set of questions. It’s more a personal reflection of your cognitive state to determine if you feel like you’re not as smart as you used to be.”
Many people don’t have access to more in-depth scans or specialists – further increasing potential applications for SCD measurement, he said.
Wing said it’s important to note that these self-reported experiences do not imply a diagnosis and do not independently confirm that a person is experiencing regression from the normal aging process. But he said they could be a low-cost, simple tool to consider using more broadly.
Amy Ferketich, a professor of epidemiology at Ohio State, also worked on the study.
materials provided by Ohio State University. Originally written by Misti Crane. Note: Content can be edited for style and length.