Even if you haven’t seen the creepy anti-smoking ads from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you must know by now that smoking is dangerous. But not only does smoking (including secondhand smoke) cause lung cancer, it can also increase your risk of dementia.
Two studies have come out of China this year that underscore the effects of secondhand smoke on dementia. The first study was conducted in China between 2007 and 2009 in nearly 6,000 seniors over the age of 60. Researchers found that participants who were exposed to environmental tobacco smoke had a significantly increased risk of severe dementia syndromes. In fact, those exposed to secondhand smoke were 29 percent more likely to develop severe dementia than those who had not been exposed.
The second study examined the effects of secondhand smoke among women in particular, who may be at higher risk of developing neurological disorders. Researchers studied close to 2,500 women over age 65 in China who had never smoked, and found a statistically significant dose–response relationship between secondhand smoke exposure and dementia.
This isn’t good news, especially given the fact that when seniors were growing up, smoking was all the rage, and the negative health effects were still unknown. Just look at movies from the first half of the twentieth century and you’ll see cigarette smoking glamorized and glorified throughout.
Does this mean that with more education about the dangers of smoking, we’ll see fewer cases of dementia down the road? Only time will tell, but if a smoke-free environment can save only one person from the ravages of memory loss, it would be worth it.