Smoking rots the brain

Lungs, hearts and now, gray matter. Cigarettes are an equal opportunity organ destroyer.

Thinking was a matter of slow going for smokers in the study.

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It's amazing how many smokers don't seem to care that cigarettes destroy their heart and lungs (not YOU, right?). Now they can add this to the list of their hobby's consequences: It turns their brain to mush.

Yes, smoking "rots" the brain by damaging memory, learning and reasoning, the BBC reports in a story summarizing a Kings College London study of 8,800 people over the age of 50.

Smokers underachieved in mental tasks including learning new words and naming as many animals as possible in a minute.

High blood pressure and excess weight also undermined mental performance, but less than cigarettes did. The study was first published in the journal Age and Ageing.

"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," said Dr. Simon Ridley from Alzheimer's Research UK.

"We all know smoking, a high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and a high BMI (body mass index) is bad for our heart. This research adds to the huge amount of evidence that also suggests they can be bad for our head too," agreed the Alzheimer's Society.

Lungs, hearts, and now, brains. Not only does smoking kill. It's looking more and more like an equal opportunity organ destroyer.

Photo: Urban ARTefakte via Flickr

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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