If the risks of heart disease and cancer aren't troubling enough, newly published research showing that heavy smoking in middle age more than doubles the risk of Alzheimer's disease might motivate some smokers to stop. This finding emerged from a study that followed more than 21,000 middle-aged men and women for 23 years. It showed that individuals who smoked two packs or more of cigarettes per day had a 114 percent greater risk of dementia than non-smokers; those who smoked between one to two packs a day had a 44 percent increased risk and those who smoked half to one pack daily had a 37 percent increased risk. Non-smoking middle-aged people in the study who identified themselves as former smokers didn't appear to have an increased risk of later dementia. The study's principal investigator suggested that smoking might increase the risk of dementia by narrowing blood vessels in the brain, and added that oxidative stress and inflammation promoted by cigarette smoke may also damage the brain, eventually leading to dementia. Researchers from Finland, Sweden and the Kaiser Permanente Health Plan reported the overall findings, which were published online October 25, 2010 by the Archives of Internal Medicine.
My take? In addition to the risk of lung cancer and emphysema, tobacco use raises risk of bladder cancer, cancers of the head and neck, and leukemia. Smoking is especially dangerous if you are diabetic, take birth control pills or have any heart or circulatory problems, respiratory disease, urinary or prostate trouble, digestive disorders, a family history of cancer or increased risk of cancer for any reason, high blood pressure, seizure disorder or a family history of coronary heart disease. If none of that worries you, I'm not sure the risk of Alzheimer's will. But according to this study it should.
Smoking is among the worst health habits.