New Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Revealed

New Risk Factors for Alzheimer's Revealed

( – Though it has long been known that smoking damages the lungs, new research has shown that it also damages the brain.

This study’s results, which were published in “Biological Psychiatry: Global Open Science,” provided insight into the link between smoking and cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Scientists from St. Louis, Missouri’s Washington University School of Medicine (WashUMed) examined brain images from 32,094 European-descended individuals included in the database of the UK Biobank. The researchers took into account factors such as smoking history, brain volume, and hereditary smoking tendencies. Smoking substantially promotes brain shrinkage, they found, and heredity may play a role in the desire to smoke as well.

Researchers claim that their study clarifies the link between smoking and an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly. Deterioration of gray matter is more common among smokers. This research adds to the growing body of evidence linking aging to a slow loss in brain volume; smoking, however, accelerates this process.

Although the shrinking cannot be reversed, quitting smoking can stop further brain tissue loss.

While he did not participate in the WashUMed research, neurosurgery division head Dr. Brett Osborn of Florida’s St. Mary’s Medical Center did express his opinion regarding the results. While aging and some disorders associated with aging cannot be prevented or stopped, one’s way of life can certainly hasten or slow the process. He claimed that avoiding harmful substances like alcohol and cigarettes may help individuals age gracefully, since they both increase the body’s production of free radicals.

The doctor states that smoking releases free radicals, electrons that destroy cells, into the bloodstream. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) reveals that smoking generates vascular damage, leading to brain damage and a gradual decrease in brain volume.

Osborn said that compared to other organs, the brain has a poorer capability for recuperation; therefore, quitting smoking can only slow the harm that has already been done.

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