Scientists claim smoking can cause dementia by clogging up part of the brain used for memory
The area most affected, the boffins say, is the gray matter in the hippocampus – the centre of emotion, memory and the nervous system in our brains
SCIENTISTS claim smoking clogs up the part of the brain crucial for memory amid new research.
Cigarettes create a build up of calcium in the section that stores memories of recent and past experiences.
The area most affected, the boffins say, is the gray matter in the hippocampus – the centre of emotion, memory and the nervous system in our brains.
A Dutch study of almost 2,000 older people found those who smoked were more likely to have the formations of calcium.
Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia, is already associated with damage to the hippocampus.
And now the study provides more understanding about the possible dangers of smoking, as the damage done to the heart and lungs was known, but less was understood about the effect of cigarettes on the brain.
What is dementia?
Dementia is known for the problems it causes with thinking, reasoning and memory – as these are the areas in the brain that become damaged with the disease.
There are two main groups dementia can be split into: Cortical, which causes severe memory loss like that seen in Alzheimer’s, and Sub-cortical, which affects thinking speed and activity as seen with Parkinson’s disease.
Vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s are two of the most common forms of the disease, and they both cause problems with memory – both are rare in those under 65 years old.
Other common forms of dementia are Frontotemporal dementia, mostly diagnosed in those under 65 years old, and dementia with Lewy bodies, where nerve damage gradually gets worse over time causing slowed movement.
Lead author Dr Esther de Brouwer, geriatrician at the University Medical Centre in Holland, said: “We know calcifications in the hippocampus are common, especially with increasing age.
“However, we did not know if calcifications in the hippocampus related to cognitive function.
“We do think smoking and diabetes are risk factors. In a recent histopathology study, hippocampal calcifications were found to be a manifestation of vascular disease.
“It is well known smoking and diabetes are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. It is, therefore, likely smoking and diabetes are risk factors for hippocampal calcifications.”
The study was published in the Radiology journal and used brain scans to further look into the role calcifications in the brain – specifically the hipppocampus – play in developing dementia.
Today we also reported how GPs will tell patients to booze less and exercise more to cut their dementia risk.