Smoking May 'Rot' Your Brain

Researchers in London have identified several heart disease risk factors associated with the accelerated decline of memory, learning, attention, and reasoning.

                    Here's yet another reason not to smoke: Scientists say smoking "rots" the brain.

Researchers at King's College London analyzed information on almost 9,000 people over the age of 50 and found that smoking negatively affected their memory, learning ability, and reasoning capacity.

Researchers analyzed data on smoking, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and body mass index (BMI), as well as individuals' 10-year risk levels for heart disease and stroke based on risk categories developed by the Framingham Heart Study.

Participants were evaluated at four- and eight-year follow-ups, where they were asked to perform brain tests, like learning new words or naming as many animals as they could in a minute.

The study showed that of all the risk factors, smoking had the most consistent negative impact on cognitive performance in all three tasks designed to test memory recall, verbal fluency, attention, and other cognitive functions.

Those with high BMIs did worse on the memory task, while high blood pressure was linked to lower scores for memory and overall cognitive performance. Those at high risk of stroke were found to perform more poorly across all three cognitive assessments, according to a news release from King's College.

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