Now, another scourge to haunt those who are heavy smokers.
Scientists at the University of Eastern Finland at Kuopio University Hospital, analyzed data from 21,123 members of a health care system who took part in a survey between 1978 and 1985, when they were between ages 50 and 60. Diagnoses of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and vascular dementia were tracked from Jan. 1, 1994, when the participants were 71.6 years old, on average, through July 31, 2008.
About one-quarter of the group, or 5,367, had dementia, including 1,136 with Alzheimer’s disease and 416 with vascular dementia. Researchers say that people who smoked more than two packs of cigarettes a day in middle age had an elevated risk of dementia overall and also of each subtype, Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, compared with nonsmokers.
Researchers concluded that pack-a-day smokers were 37 percent more likely than nonsmokers to develop dementia, and the risks went up sharply with increased smoking; 44 percent for one to two packs a day; and twice the risk for more than two packs.
The researchers say
- “It is possible that smoking affects the development of dementia via vascular and neurodegenerative pathways. Smoking also contributes to oxidative stress and inflammation, which are believed to be important in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.”
- “This study shows its impact is likely to become even greater as the population ages and dementia prevalence increases.”
The good news
- Former smokers or people who smoked less than half a pack per day did not appear to be at increased risk of developing dementia.
- And associations between dementia and smoking did not vary by race or sex.
An author, Dr. Rachel A. Whitmer, an epidemiologist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, Calif., said, “the study offered a silver lining: unlike age and family history, this is one risk factor for dementia that can be changed.”
People can quit smoking. It is difficult, especially if you’re a long-time smoker. But it can be done and there are more tools to assist in your effort to quit smoking than ever before. Besides prescription medication from your family physician, there are Nicotine Patches and Lozenges which can be purchased without a prescription at any local pharmacy. Be sure to check with your family physician or local pharmacist if you intend to combine any of these medications.
Most major hospitals offer meetings for Stop-Smoking Support Groups. Your doctor may have a list also. And there may be such groups online. Before you start to Quit– Have a plan, the American Lung Association also offers free Instruction Kits to help you quit smoking.
I understand that it’s extremely difficult to cope with the dementia or Alzheimer’s patient who smokes. Some patients have smoked for so many years that the habit remains stamped in their memory despite all else that they’ve forgotten.
Besides the health issues involved, the fear of a casually discarded cigarette and ensuing house-fire can be terrifying.
My mom was never a smoker but I had a friend whose father never forgot his addiction to cigarettes as he progressed through all the stages of Alzheimer’s. The sad part for him was that he would forget he had just smoked before he wanted another, over time he became a chain smoker demanding a cigarettes at all hours.
It was a sad and traumatic experience for his daughter who became his only caregiver and feared the battle of trying to wean him from smoking.
Now, we have an alternative for smoking in the electronic cigarette. Not only does it provide an authentic smoking experience but it also eliminates the fear of a fire or flame.
One of the latest Alternatives to smoking is the Electronic Cigarette.
How can the Electronic Cigarette help?
The battery operated cigarette provides an authentic smoking experience without fear of fire or flame. Smoking the Electronic Cigarette ends the harried caregiver’s worry about the casually discarded cigarette starting a fire.
The Electronic Cigarette is the alternative way to smoke without smoker’s breath or offensive smoke. Non-intrusive to others since there is no smoke but only a vapor.
Cheaper than cigarettes, the Electronic Cigarette provides a safe alternative for the person with Alzheimer’s or Dementia who has been previously unable to stop smoking. The amount of nicotine can be lowered gradually so the “need” for a cigarette will eventually cease altogether.