Smoking and Memory Loss

Smoking and Memory Loss

John (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

29 May 2003, 06:19 #1

Smoking Speeds Up
Memory Loss in Middle Age
By Alison McCook

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Cigarette smokers who continue the  habit through middle age may see their memory suffer as a result, according to new study findings released Wednesday.[/size]

UK researchers found that, from their 40s to their 50s, smokers showed a faster decline in their scores on tests of word memory, relative to non-smokers.[/size]

Furthermore, people who smoked in their 40s did worse on tests that measure how fast they could pick out certain letters from a page than non-smokers of the same age, the authors write in the American Journal of Public Health.[/size]

The relationship between smoking and memory loss appeared strongest in people who smoked more than 20 cigarettes each day, and persisted even when the authors controlled for the influence of socioeconomic status, gender and a range of medical conditions.[/size]

Just why smoking may speed up age-related memory loss is not yet clear, study author Dr. Marcus Richards of University College London told Reuters Health.[/size]

He said that he and his colleagues suspected that smoking may accelerate memory loss by increasing the risk of high blood pressure, which can damage the brain. However, the relationship between smoking and brain functioning may be slightly more complicated, Richards said.[/size]

"Our results for memory still held up after taking blood pressure into account, but smoking could have been causing changes in the brain's blood supply that we were not able to measure," he said.[/size]

Alternatively, chemicals in cigarette smoke could also damage the brain directly, Richards added.[/size]

Whatever the reasons for why smoking accelerates memory loss, the message from these results should be clear, Richards said.[/size]

"This is yet another reason to quit smoking," he said. "If you can't, then cut down as much as you can."[/size]

During the study, Richards and his team reviewed information collected from 5,362 people born in 1946. Study participants were contacted 21 times by the time they turned 53.[/size]

Researchers measured people's mental functioning via a series of tests. In one test, which looked at verbal memory, the investigators showed people 15 words for two seconds each, then asked them to write down as many as they could remember.[/size]

During tests of speed and concentration, people had to look for and cross out as many Ps and Ws they could find in a page of other letters within one minute.[/size]

Although smokers in their 40s performed just as well as non-smokers in the verbal memory tests, puffers' performance deteriorated much faster from their 40s to their 50s.[/size]

And people who said they smoked while in their 40s scored worse during speed tests conducted in their 40s than non-smokers.[/size]

But the findings also suggest that quitting may help, for the researchers discovered that people who stopped smoking before age 53, and especially those who stopped before age 43, tended to exhibit a slower decline in memory.[/size]

"Our results suggest that quitting may slow down the negative impact of smoking on cognitive function," Richards said.[/size]

SOURCE: American Journal of Public Health 2003;93.[/size]
Copyright © 2003 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.[/size]


June 2003, Vol 93, No. 6 | American Journal of Public Health 994-998
© 2003 American Public Health Association
Cigarette Smoking and Cognitive Decline in Midlife: Evidence From a Prospective Birth Cohort Study[/size]
Marcus Richards, PhD, Martin J. Jarvis, DSc, Neil Thompson, BSc and Michael E. J. Wadsworth, PhD[/size]

Marcus Richards, Neil Thompson, and Michael E. J. Wadsworth are with the Medical Research Council, National Survey of Health and Development, University College London, London, England. Martin J. Jarvis is with the Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Unit, University College London.[/size][/size]

Correspondence: Requests for reprints should be sent to Marcus Richards, PhD, MRC National Survey of Health and Development, Royal Free and University College London Medical School, University College London, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, 1-19 Torrington Pl, London WC1E 6BT, England (e-mail: [][/url]).[/size][/size]

Objectives. The authors investigated the effects of cigarette smoking on midlife cognitive performance.[/size]

Methods. Multiple regression was used to test the association between cigarette smoking and changes in cognitive test scores among male and female members of the British 1946 birth cohort aged between 43 and 53 years.[/size]

Results. Smoking was associated with faster declines in verbal memory and with slower visual search speeds. These effects were largely accounted for by individuals who smoked more than 20 cigarettes per day and were independent of sex, socioeconomic status, previous (adolescent) cognitive ability, and a range of health indicators.[/size]

Conclusions. The present results show that heavy smoking is associated with cognitive impairment and decline in midlife. Smokers who survive into later life may be at risk of clinically significant cognitive declines.[/size]
Last edited by John (Gold) on 30 Jan 2010, 19:21, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

31 May 2003, 19:44 #2

This study seems to have struck a chord with many of our members. I think a few people posted the same article throughout the day yesterday. Since we had the article up already we deleted the others since they were redundant. Actually we really do want people to clear news articles before posting them because the news press releases doesn't always reflect the most accurate of information.

By the fact that numerous people have heard about this report and are commenting on it I thought we should highlight it. Again, it seems to have touched a chord to many people here. When we are dealing with the dangers posed by smoking, that include diseases like cancer, heart disease, strokes, emphysema, peripheral vascular diseases and numerous other problems, it's quite amazing when something new gets reported that actually alarms people. With everything we have known for a long time now anyone thinking about cigarettes should find them absolutely terrifying already. A person who is in his or her twenty or thirties needs not only to be considering the fact that he or she may not have to worry about memory loss in his or her forties or fifties or sixties or seventies--he or she may not make it to any of those ages.

People who are there though very likely recognize that memory and learning functions are altered over the decades. This phenomena often becomes quite a concern and the individual begins to appreciate just how important memory is. People often don't appreciate the importance of certain functions until those functions are impaired or lost. The same holds true for lung functions, general endurance, and overall health.

This study brings up a number of factors that may be responsible for the effects on the brain, blood pressure effects and circulatory effects on the brain. Our post on Smoking and Circulation explains the circulatory effect on the brain as well as throughout the whole body. If any of these factors can influence memory loss it is quite likely that smokers are going to show an accelerated loss in memory functions.

What I want to caution people on though is this is one study that has not yet been verified to other such studies. You can bet that there will be others coming along the way and that in the interim that comments may be made by the tobacco industry about conflicting data trying to create a sense of doubt as to whether this reaction is real. The danger of such denials is that it makes people think that if this report is controversial, maybe the other dangers said to be posed by smoking are also so controversial. Nothing can be further from the truth.

The strength of the research about smoking and cancer, heart disease, emphysema, peripheral vascular diseases and other problems is overwhelming. The magnitude of the dangers, the number of studies done over the decades, and the number of different countries and scientific and medical groups that have explored the risks posed by smoking make it among the most uncontroversial dangerous products ever used by man. In most developed countries it is the most preventable cause of death and is slowly becoming a major problem in developing countries too. This year almost 5 million people are going to die from smoking worldwide.

As time goes on we are likely to learn more on how cigarettes has caused these problems and find out other things that smoking may be causing that we may not have identified yet. Again, there may be some controversies raised about a specific condition until studies are replicated and reviewed, but no one should allow these discussions on one issue to weaken his or her impression of the overall risks posed by cigarettes. Cigarettes are lethal and before they kill they are slowly impairing smokers and causing reactions normally associated with aging like impairing your endurance, your breathing abilities, and maybe now even your memory and cognitive functions. If years of smoking has had some impact on the memories of our older members, the good news is that there is not much that you have to remember now to end the premature aging effects posed by any damage future smoking could have caused. All it takes to stay smoke free and eliminate the risks posed by future smoking is remembering now to never take another puff!


John (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

30 Sep 2003, 06:30 #3

Smoking linked to memory problems
Associated Press

Adults who smoke heavily develop poorer memories in middle age, according to a new British study.

It suggests smokers who survive the biggest dangers - lung cancer and heart disease - may be at risk from dementia in old age.

Researchers at University College London studied 2,000 adults as part of a broader tracking of the health of thousands of people born in Britain in 1946.

Some of the participants took memory, concentration and visual speed tests aged 43 and again at 53.

Heavy smoking - more than 20 cigarettes a day - was associated with faster declines in verbal memory and visual speed, although the declines were small.

The scientists will continue tracking the participants to see how their brains fare as get older.

The UCL study was published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Other research has already identified smoking as a possible contributor to dementia.

One cause of dementia is restricted blood flow in the brain, and smoking is linked to narrowed arteries and silent mini-strokes that choke that blood supply.
© Associated Press
Original Story Filed Thursday 29th May 2003

John (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

11 Feb 2004, 00:26 #4

There is no debate but that smoking nicotine causes the body's fight or  flight neurochemicals to kick in and the central nervous system (CNS) to be stimulated, the mind to be fed, and alertness and awareness enhanced. But does nicotine induced CNS alertness or its effects upon other neurochemical centers somehow affect memory?

What we do know is that nicotine causes an adrenaline release that cascades into nicotine serving as a spoon that pumps stored fats and sugars into the bloodstream. It allowed us to actually skip meals and still be fed, something that would cause non-smokers to experience wild blood sugar swing symptoms that include an inability to concentrate. Can mind fog and general inability to concentrate leave a quitter believing that they are experiencing memory problems? If you have such concerns be sure and take stock in your body fueling patterns. The mind functions best when properly fed.

Human Psychopharmacology. 2002 Oct;17(7):369-73.

Acute effects of cigarettes in non-deprived smokers on memory, calculation and executive functions.

Sakurai Y, Kanazawa I.

Department of Neurology, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.

To determine whether smoking one or two cigarettes daily has effects on cognitive functions and the blood nicotine level, we examined 20 smokers and 20 nonsmokers as part of a normal daily smoking regimen using psychological tests for memory, calculation and association. Subjects underwent Buschke's selective reminding test, a mental arithmetic task (multiplication between two digits and one digit) and an association task (letter fluency); the duration of each task being 2 min under the condition of pre-smoking, one cigarette smoking and two cigarette smoking sessions, with an inter-session interval of 50 min. The total recall or correct responses were evaluated. The results showed that performance deteriorated in the later sessions in the memory task, whereas it improved in the later sessions in the calculation and association tasks, with no group (smoker-nonsmoker) difference, nor interaction between tasks and groups in each task. Plasma nicotine increased by 10 ng/ml immediately after smoking a cigarette, and 14 ng/ml immediately after smoking two cigarettes, but decreased to the pre-smoking level or slightly higher 10 min after smoking. These findings suggested that a daily dose of nicotine had little effect on the performance related to memory, calculation and mental association. Copyright 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

PMID: 12415558 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Last edited by John (Gold) on 30 Jan 2010, 19:22, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:58

11 Mar 2004, 17:51 #5

Wow! One more validation for quitting! I have found that I am really going through that right now. My whole family bugs me about the things I keep forgetting already - for about the past year. My brain just doesnt feel as up to snuff as it should be. Before this I was wondering about Alzheimers. Anyone else notice a change. My memory has been exceptional all my life before this. Can it be reversed??
Kathleen - Free and Healing for Eight Days, 5 Hours and 36 Minutes, while extending my life expectancy 10 Hours, by avoiding the use of 124 nicotine delivery devices that would have cost me $54.36.

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:58

11 Mar 2004, 17:52 #6

I'm 39 by the way.........

John (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

11 Mar 2004, 19:49 #7

Take care not to read too too much into this one, AngelicRose. Yes smoking may be a contributing factor but as Joel has reminded me more than once, a natural part of aging process is a decline in most of our abilities including memory performance.

John (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

23 Mar 2004, 08:44 #8

Smokers 'suffer
faster mental decline'
By Sam Lister
March 22, 2004, The Times UK
ELDERLY people who smoke lose their mental faculties up to five  times faster than non-smokers.
A study of almost 10,000 pensioners from Britain and continental Europe has found that smoking habits have an impact on cognitive function, with past or present smokers suffering a markedly faster mental decline.
Participants in the study were assessed for cognitive ability over an average of 30 months under a test known as the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), which includes tasks in comprehension, reading, writing and drawing. Among those who had never smoked, MMSE scores declined by 0.03 points a year, while current smokers dropped by 0.16 points over the same period. Former smokers' scores were found to decrease by 0.06 points a year, twice the rate of those who had never smoked.
Alewijn Ott, the lead author based at Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, said that noticeable trends had emerged because of the number of participants, who were all over 65.
The research, published today in Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology, involved 9,209 men and women, none of whom suffered from dementia. Greater cognitive decline occurred with higher cigarette pack-year exposure, a calculation involving the number of years someone has smoked and the reported average daily number of cigarettes.
Professor Ott said that the findings were significant mainly for the former smokers and not the current smokers, in part due to lower numbers of current smokers in the study because of their higher death rate. The study, conducted in Britain, Denmark, France and the Netherlands, suggests that smoking could affect cognitive function through various mechanisms, including the onset of atherosclerosis and hypertension caused by tobacco use.
Professor Ott said that such conditions, and other effects of smoking, increased the risk of stroke and "silent" brain infarctions. He added: "More in-depth studies are needed to verify if these or other factors are responsible for greater cognitive decline in smokers."
Amanda Sandford, of the anti-smoking group ASH, said "Given the amount of poisons in cigarette smoke, it would seem logical that it must have some negative impact on brain function."
Copyright 2004 Times Newspapers Ltd.
Last edited by John (Gold) on 30 Jan 2010, 19:23, edited 1 time in total.

John (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

23 Mar 2004, 09:00 #9

Smoking 'causes brain decline'
BBC News UK Edition
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
Study links smoking to brain decline
Smoking speeds up brain decline in the elderly, a study suggests.
The rate of decline is five times higher than in people who have never smoked, according to a group of European researchers.
Their study, published in Neurology, also found that smokers who quit greatly slowed their cognitive decline.
The findings contradict some earlier research which had suggested that nicotine could actually aid the brain.
The latest study ran a series of questions and tests called a mini-mental state examination (MMSE) designed to establish the cognitive function of men and women aged 65 and over.
Among those who never smoked, their MMSE declined .03 points a year, while for current smokers it was .16 points per year. For people who had previously quit, the MMSE declined .06 points. The constant inhaling of a substance that is a poison is more likely to have a negative effect than a positive one Image
Amanda Sandford, ASH Study author Alewjin Ott, of the Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, in The Netherlands, said chronic tobacco use causes atherosclerosis and hypertension and that this, and other effects of smoking, increases the risk of stroke and small areas of tissue damage in the brain.
Current smoker
The greater the number of cigarettes smoked and the longer a person had been a smoker for, the greater the cognitive decline, Professor Ott found.
However, this was more significant for current smokers than those who had quit.
A family history of dementia did not influence the higher decline in smokers, said the researchers.
They studied data for 9,209 people in Denmark, France, The Netherlands and the UK for the European Community Concerted Action Epidemiology of Dementia (EURODEM) incidence research group.
Amanda Sandford, a spokeswoman for Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said: "There has been other research suggesting nicotine might have some beneficial effects. It is quite a complex area."
Earlier studies had shown a positive effect against Alzheimer's, but Ms Sandford suggested this was because smokers did not live long enough.
She added: "The constant inhaling of a substance that is a poison is more likely to have a negative effect than a positive one."
Though smoking was more associated with damage to the heart and lungs, it also affected brain function, she said.
She welcomed the finding that those who had quit smoking also benefited as this emphasised that it was "never to late to quit".
However, Simon Clark, director of pro-smoking lobby Forest, said: "People will be very sceptical about these results. They will be put down to yet more scaremongering by the health industry.
"There have been so many weird reports recently and exaggerated claims that it is not going to have the slightest effect at all."
Copyright BBC News
Last edited by John (Gold) on 30 Jan 2010, 19:23, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: 09 Jan 2009, 23:24

23 Mar 2004, 23:50 #10

Wow! Another reason to never take another puff. I am 41, so I need to think positvely that I may have quit in time.

Yesterday, while walking to get rid of my extra ten pounds, I said hello to a man at his mail box wearing a beautiful, very large gold necklace. He had to press the 'medallion' on his necklace to say hello. It was not just jewelery, it was his tracheotomy device!

I will happily diet and excercise off my ten pounds. I can breathe deeply, walk, run, etc., and now I must add talk with out mechanical assistance, and enjoy memories, to the list of smoking cessation benefits.

Pat - Free and Healing for Twenty Seven Days, 12 Hours and 11 Minutes, while extending my life expectancy 2 Days and 20 Hours, by avoiding the use of 825 nicotine delivery devices that would have cost me $165.23.