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Paper of the Day - Smokers more likely to develop dementia

New research indicates that people who smoke are more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease or dementia than non-smokers or those who smoked in the past.

Researchers followed nearly 7,000 people aged 55 and above for an average of seven years.

During the follow-up period, 706 participants developed dementia but people who were smokers at the time of the observation were 50% more likely to have or develop dementia than past smokers, or those who had never smoked.

Smoking could raise the risk of dementia in several ways, according to study leader Dr Monique Breteler, of the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Holland, said:

'Smoking increases the risk of cerebrovascular disease, which is also tied to dementia.

'Another mechanism could be through oxidative stress, which can damage cells in the blood vessels and lead to hardening of the arteries.

'Smokers experience greater oxidative stress than non-smokers, and increased oxidative stress is also seen in Alzheimer's disease.'

Neurology 2007;69:998.

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