Smoking could be most important factor affecting cognition with age: Study

New Delhi: Smokers could experience up to 85 per cent more decline in their cognitive skills such as memory and speech compared to those who did not smoke, a study has found.

Researchers, who analysed 16 varied combinations of lifestyle factors, including physical activity, alcohol habits and socialising, found that smoking habits could be the most important aspect affecting how quickly cognition declines with age.

“Our findings suggest that among the healthy behaviours we examined, not smoking may be among the most important in terms of maintaining cognitive function,” Mikaela Bloomberg from University College London, UK, and lead author of the study published in the journal Nature Communications, said.

The team of researchers surveyed over 32,000 adults aged at least 50 years from across 14 European countries, tracking them for up to 13 years.

Based on their responses, the participants were grouped according to their smoking habits and if they performed moderate or vigourous physical activity at least once a week. How often they saw friends and family in a week, along with their drinking habits, were also analysed.

They found that cognitive skills deteriorated faster in the participants who followed lifestyles that involved smoking – up to 85 per cent higher across 10 years, compared to that in people following non-smoking lifestyles.

Smokers preferring to socialise less were found to be affected the most with about a third to 50 per cent decline in their cognition over 10 years.

“Our study is observational so cannot definitively establish cause and effect, but it suggests smoking might be a particularly important factor influencing the rate of cognitive ageing,” Bloomberg said.

Published 08 July 2024, 11:28 IST


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