The Archives of General Psychiatry—a journal produced by the American Medical Association—reported this month that smoking damages mental function.
The finding comes from a study of over 7000 British civil servants as they aged. Surprisingly, however, the accelerated cognitive decline was only detected in men. The researchers postulate that this may be because, on average, men smoke higher volumes of tobacco. The study found that men who smoke, accelerate their cognitive decline by a full decade.
Dr. Chester Kuma, associate director of the South Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists’ health department, is not surprised by the findings. “The relationship between smoking and declining cognitive function has been a topic of great interest in recent years. Research over the last decade confirms that not only is cigarette smoking harmful to the lungs, heart and arteries, but it also has a significant negative impact on the brain and in particular the frontal lobes, which are the seat of our conscience, reasoning, learning, thinking and decision making,” he said.
The study found that men who smoke, accelerate their cognitive decline by a full decade.
Dr. Ross Grant, CEO of the Australasian Research Institute located at Sydney Adventist Hospital, states, “One of the key reasons for the death of brain cells in Alzheimer’s disease is the increase in free radical activity in the brain – also known as oxidative stress. It is well known that smoking increases free radical damage to lungs and blood vessels, increasing the risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke. It’s not surprising then that that this increase in free radical activity also correlates with greater damage, both directly and indirectly, to cells of the brain.”
Dr. Grant further notes that the British study’s findings correlate with recent research by the Australasian Research Institute: “Our research indicates that both men and women are much more vulnerable to factors that increase free radical damage to their body’s tissues after middle age. However we also found that men appeared to be more susceptible to damage after middle age than women.”