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Smoking Linked to Decline of the Mind

Researchers find that besides blackening the lungs, smoking can cloud the mind with premature cognitive decline.

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Smoking blows the mind. Photo via

By Bryan Le

02/07/12

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Smoking has long been known to wreck hearts and lungs, but a recent study shows shows the habit also clouds our minds. Researchers from University College London measured the cognitive abilities of over 7,000 people (mostly men), testing them three times over ten years. They found that men who smoke may suffer cognitive decline comparable to the brain aging ten years. Alarmingly, the decline can begin as early as 45 years old—meaning a smoking man of 45 could have the brain of a 55-year-old. And the more you smoke, the faster the decline. Even after crunching the numbers to compensate for factors like heart disease, stroke and natural cognitive decline the correlation remains strong. But all is not lost: the study also found that men who quit smoking actually had better cognitive abilities on average than their peers who never smoked at all. That's probably because people who quit smoking also tend to switch to generally healthier lifestyles, helping to keep their minds sharp.

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