Smoking More Damaging to Brain than High Blood Pressure, Obesity

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By Vittorio Hernandez | November 27, 2012 10:00 AM EST

More evidence continues to be discovered of the dangers of smoking to human health. The latest is a study made by researchers at King's College London that smoking is more dangerous to the brain than high blood pressure and obesity.

The result of the study, released on Monday, was based on a study of 8,800 people over 50 years old. Although lifestyle ailments such as being overweight and having high blood pressure are also contributory to damaging the mind, their impact is lesser, scientists said.

This latest evidence could be tapped by different governments in their national campaigns to cut smoking rate. Australia, for its part, required plain packaging for cigarettes and the publication of graphic warnings of the dangers of the vice.

Among the brain functions that could be damaged by smoking are memory, learning and reasoning. The researchers cited the consistent association between smoking and lower scores in cognitive tests such as learning new works or naming many animals within a minute.

"Cognitive decline becomes more common with ageing and for an increasing number of people interferes with daily functioning and well-being," BBC quoted Dr Akex Dregan, one of the researchers.

"We all know smoking, a high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and a high BMI (body mass index) is bad for our heart. This research adds to the huge amount of evidence that also suggests they can be bad for our head too," BBC quoted the Alzheimer's Society.

The study was published in the Age and Ageing journal.

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