Study Shows That Smoking may Not Do Much to Prevent Alzheimer's Disease

by Savitha C Muppala on  February 10, 2010 at 1:03 PM Mental Health News
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 Study Shows That Smoking may Not Do Much to Prevent Alzheimer's Disease
There is no evidence to suggest that smoking prevents Alzheimer's disease, a new study has claimed.

In fact, after reviewing more than 40 research papers published since 1984, experts at the University of California have said that smoking nearly doubles the risk of developing the disease.

Professor Jurgen Gotz, from the University of Sydney's Brain and Mind Research Institute, pointed out that industry-linked studies could have been influenced.

"There have been many studies looking at the incidence of Alzheimer's disease in general, and dementia in general, and the role of nicotine," quoted him as saying.

He added: "Some of these studies showed, or claimed to show, that smoking, in a sense, protects from Alzheimer's disease.

"It turns out when one takes these (industry-linked) studies into consideration ... the bottom line is smoking indeed is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease."

He concluded: "This has been disproved both in humans, as studies show, and in animals and cell culture systems.

"Nicotine ... increases the degenerative changes in the brain."

Studies into tobacco and Alzheimer's had begun in the late 1970s, after reports came of lower rates of the condition among older smokers.

Source: ANI

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Smoking has no benefits. Cigarette smoke contains over 4,800 chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer.
A few major studies have established a correlation between smoking and developing Alzheimer's Disease, but none are widespread or detailed enough to fully understand the link. Some early studies were retrospective, meaning they examined the smoking habits of those who had already developed Alzheimer's. Prospective studies followed smokers and non-smokers, administered tests, and measured mental acuity. As it stands, the decline in mental skills of the elderly is worse among smokers. However, in people who carry a gene that makes them susceptible to developing Alzheimer's, smoking seems to neither prevent nor speed the onset of the disease.
One complication in these studies is the tendency of smokers to die earlier than non-smokers from stroke, cancer, or heart disease. Thus, the studies are skewed toward those relatively healthy smokers that have not suffered serious health problems. Also, these studies rely on people's own reporting about their smoking habits, rather than collecting independent verification. Lastly, it has been shown that nicotine, when injected and not inhaled, can improve mental faculties, such as memory recall, of Alzheimer's patients. Certainly, further studies are needed to fully understand the causal relationship between Alzheimer's Disease and smoking.
The researchers also looked into how smoking affects the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease for people who have the gene that increases the risk of Alzheimer's, called apolipoprotein E4, or APOEå4. They found that smoking did not increase the risk of Alzheimer's for those with the APOEå4 gene. But for those without the APOEå4 gene, smoking increased the risk of Alzheimer's. Current smokers without the Alzheimer's gene were nearly 70 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer's than nonsmokers or past smokers without the Alzheimer's gene.

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