Cardiovascular risk factors, such as smoking, obesity and high blood pressure "rot" the brain by damaging memory, learning and reasoning, according to a study published Nov. 26 in the journal Age and Ageing, by researchers from the prestigious university King's College, London. The study builds on previous research which has also found a link between smoking and cognitive decline in older adults without dementia.
The researchers studied 8,800 people aged over 50, over a period of ten years and found that smoking had the greatest and most global negative effect on the brain and its function, with high blood pressure and obesity having a lesser effect. The mean age of participants at the 2004-05 survey was 67 and just over half (55%) of them were women.
Scientists warned that lifestyle choices can damage the mind as well as the body. Smoking in particular, as well as high blood pressure and obesity accelerated decline of memory, learning, attention and reasoning in older adults.