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Mid-Life Smoking Leads To Early Memory Problems

Armen Hareyan's picture

Mid-life smokers experience memory problems earlier than non-smokers, but ex-smokers still have chances to cut the risk.

A team of researchers from National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Villejuif, France examined 10,308 people aged between 35 to 55. Study enrollment took place between 1985 and 1988 after all participants reported their smoking habits. Later, between the years of 1997 and 1999 they were again questioned about smoking habits. At this time 5,388 participants who had reported their smoking habits were also given memory tests to estimate their 'memory, reasoning, vocabulary and verbal fluency'. Out of them 4,659 participants were tested once more 5 years later. The number of participants declined during the study mainly because most of them simply refused to pass memory tests for various reasons.

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The smoking and memory study found that mid-life smokers have the lowest memory scores and that ex-smokers are 30% less likely than smokers to suffer from memory problems earlier in life. However, researchers said that these figures underestimate the reality, because most smokers refused to participate in the study. Researchers also remind that mid-life memory problems lead to early dementia development, indirectly linking smoking to dementia.

The study says: "During the past 20 years, public health messages about smoking have led to changes in smoking behaviour. Public health messages on smoking should continue to target smokers of all ages."

The study also reported that ex-smokers have significantly improved healthy habits just after quitting smoking. Quitters were found to spend more time on exercising, drink less alcohol, eat more fruits and vegetables, and adopting healthy lifestyle rules.