Dementia Centred

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By Henriette Laidlaw

May 26th, 2016

Smoking and dementia

A number of conditions linked to smoking have been associated with the development of dementia

If you are aware that smoking causes cancer, then it is most likely you will know that smoking also causes a range of respiratory diseases. Did you know that smoking also causes around one in five cases of cardiovascular disease, with smoking being a key risk factor for peripheral arterial disease.

Smoking is also associated with an increased risk of a having a stroke and number of other conditions that can contribute to disability and frailty in later life. 

A number of these conditions have been associated with the development of dementia (such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke). There is, therefore, a growing body of evidence that people who smoke may have a higher risk of developing dementia..

In our survey The Big Ask 55% of respondents thought stopping or never starting smoking would directly help people with dementia, while 31% thought it had little or no effect.

However research shows that stopping smoking can significantly reduce the risk of smoking-related disease at any age (including those aged over 80). The millennium women’s study found that stopping smoking around the age of 40 avoided 90% of the health risks of smoking and 97% if stopped around 30 years old. 

British doctors study which found that men who stopped smoking at 50 halved their mortality risk from smoking and almost avoided this risk if abstinent from smoking by aged 30.

Smoking cessation can also improve the symptoms for people living with illness. For example on diabetes research has found that five years after stopping smoking for women, and ten years for men, the incidence of diabetes was the same as for non-smokers.

Finally, the Whitehall II cohort study16 found that in government employees who had been abstinent from smoking for at least a decade, this past history of tobacco use had no adverse effects on cognitive decline.

Adults in mid and later life who continue to smoke significantly increase their risk of smoking-related illnesses that lead to disability and frailty and in some cases, dementia. 


Linda Bauld and Fiona Dobbie Institute for Social Marketing and UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, University of Stirling: Disability, dementia and frailty in later life - mid-life approaches to prevention

Michael Marmot and Eric Brunner: Cohort Profile: The Whitehall II study

Doll, R, Peto, R, Boreham, J and Sutherland, I (2004) Mortality in relation to smoking: 50 years observations on male British doctors. British Medical Journal, 328, 1519



Creative Commons Photo "coloured smoke" by Julian Burgesss(link is external) is licensed under CC BY 2.0 

Categories: Dementia Centred