A new study by researchers in the United States has found that smoking could increase the chances of middle-aged memory loss and confusion, posing risk to mid-life brain health. The likelihood of mental (‘cognitive’) decline is lower for those who quit — even if they did so only recently, according to the researchers at Ohio State University, in Columbus. Using the 2019 Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey, the researchers compared subjective cognitive decline measures for current smokers, recent former smokers and those who had quit years earlier, analysing more than 136,000 people aged 45 and older.
About 11 percent reported subjective cognitive (SCD), which is the self-reported experience of worsening or more frequent confusion or memory loss. “The association we saw was most significant in the 45 to 59 age group, suggesting that quitting at that stage of life may have a benefit for cognitive health,” said senior study author Jeffrey Wing, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Ohio State. The researchers did not find a similar difference in the oldest group in the study, which could mean that quitting earlier is more beneficial, Wing suggested.