November 1, 2010 — Heavy smoking in midlife more than doubles the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other forms of dementia 2 decades later, according to a new observational study reported online October 25 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
The finding, from a large cohort of more than 20,000 people, suggests that the brain is not immune to long-term consequences of heavy smoking.
"This study shows that if you are an elderly person and you've been smoking and you are lucky enough that you didn't get respiratory disease or cancer or cardiovascular disease, you're still at risk for another disease that's pretty devastating that can occur in late life," senior study author Rachel Whitmer, PhD, an epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, Oakland, California, told Medscape Medical News.
Some studies suggest that smokers have a reduced risk for Parkinson's disease and other neurodegenerative conditions, as well as cognitive impairment, but others have found an association between smoking in midlife and later development of AD and other dementias.
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