King’s College study shows smokers more likely to suffer mental decline
A group of scientists based at King’s College London have been developing a study that has linked smoking (among several other factors) to early loss of brain function.
The main body of evidence supporting the theory is that smoking causes a higher heart rate and higher blood pressure, both of which are the leading causes of early on-set brain degradation.
The study was made up of 8,000 candidates of varying ages, levels of blood pressure, BMI (Body Mass Index), and of people who had a high-risk of suffering from a stroke.
Each candidate had their verbal fluency tested by having to name as many animals as possible in a minute. This was part of a slew of tasks, which also included memory matching and recognising letters in a string of characters.
The overall conclusion of the experiment demonstrated that the people with higher blood pressure and higher BMIs, had decreased or slower brain and memory function than those with lower levels.
As with any experiment, there was a high level of variance among scores and outcomes. However, the results demonstrated that those who smoked performed at a lower level in all aspects of the experiment than non-smokers.
Thanks to government legislation, cigarette packets now come with warnings that smoking increases blood pressure and puts smokers at a higher risk of suffering a stroke. In correlation to this, it makes sense that the smokers would be among the lower scoring end of the spectrum in such a study.
Professor Alex Dregan of King’s College London said: “Cognitive decline becomes more common with ageing and for an increasing number of people, interferes with daily functioning and well-being.
“Some older people can become forgetful, have trouble remembering common words or have problems organising daily tasks more than others.
“We have identified a number of risk factors which could be associated with accelerated cognitive decline, all of which could be modifiable. This offers valuable knowledge for future prevention and treatment interventions.”
Professor Dregan further expanded his point by stating that the best way of tackling this issue is to not get caught up on a singular variable in a large network of possibilities and causes and to identify and accept the “multi-causality of cognitive decline”.