We know that many diehard smokers are tired of hearing about it; however now we have proof that smoking rots the brain. Smoking destroys the ability to reason. It destroys the ability to learn and it destroys memory in middle to old aged adults. This new information is a result of a study published in the journal Age and Ageing, which reported on the consequences of unhealthy lifestyle behaviors.
King’s College London researchers studied 8,000 adults over an eight year period. They were looking for the risk for heart attacks and strokes and its impact upon the brain. They tested the subjects’ cognitive abilities measuring brain function and memory from the onset, at four years and again at the end of the study. The type of cognitive testing included having the participants name all the animals they could think of in a minute and their ability to learn new words.
At midpoint they found that subjects who were at high risk for stroke as well as smokers had a rapid decline in cognitive abilities. At the eight year period subjects with high blood pressure scored lower on the various tests.
“Some older people can become forgetful, have trouble remembering common words or have problems organizing daily tasks more than others,” Dr. Alex Dregan said.
“We have identified a number of risk factors which could be associated with accelerated cognitive decline, all of which could be modifiable. This offers valuable knowledge for future prevention and treatment interventions.”
Dr. Simon Ridley, from Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Research has repeatedly linked smoking and high blood pressure to a greater risk of cognitive decline and dementia, and this study adds further weight to that evidence.
“The results showed that the overall risk of a heart attack or stroke was “significantly associated with cognitive decline” with those at the highest risk showing the greatest decline. It also said there was a “consistent association” between smoking and lower scores in the tests.”
The researchers advise the public that they must be aware that smoking not only affects the body with cancers and other diseases it also affects the brain.
The good news is that there are many things a person can do to avoid the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s. Of course we start with the end of smoking. Recent research has pointed to exercise and changing lifestyles play a major role in keeping the heart and brain healthy.
Recently I wrote that “According to ScienceDaily, exercise in later years keeps the brain healthy and tones down the risk of getting age related diseases. Researchers note that individuals over the age of 70 who exercise incurred less brain shrinkage over a period of three years as compared to the elderly in the study who didn’t. When the brain shrinks there will be memory loss and cognitive (thinking) loss”
However, people who are addicted to nicotine may still have the cravings and they are extremely hard to fight off. Some strategies have been employed overtime to beat the cravings. People are often stressed and anxious when they are trying to quit smoking. They are jumpy and snap at everyone. Trying different relaxation techniques can help.
One approach is to try mediation. Meditation can calm the brain and reduce some of the anxiety involved with kicking the habit. At the same time it distracts the mind from thinking about cigarettes.
“Meditation is a safe and simple way to balance your physical, emotional, and mental state and more and more doctors are encouraging patients to practice meditation to cure smoking and many stress related illnesses.”
Another trick to stop the mind from thinking about cigarettes is mental imagery; the ability to focus on things other than the craving. In a joint paper put out by researchers from the University of Sheffield and the University of Queensland, it was found that a visual imagery task reduced craving in deprived smokers.
Hypnotherapy can help some individuals quit smoking. “Because hypnosis has become known for its ability to change behaviors quickly, it’s a natural starting point for many smokers trying to quit. Hypnosis relaxes your mind enough to identify unconscious triggers. “Hypnosis is nothing more than the alpha state—a state of mind that we pass through as we fall asleep at night, go deep into a memory, or as we watch television,” explains Alan B. Densky, a certified hypnotherapist based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who specializes in smoking cessation.”