Common habit found to bump up dementia risk by 30 percent in study

Saturday Kitchen Live: Ed Balls discusses his mother's dementia

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Dementia is a disease that kills tens of thousands each year through its different forms. But according to experts, one of the major causes of the disease is preventable.

Dementia is an umbrella term that describes the decline in cognitive issues such as thinking, remembering, or making decisions to the point where every day is affected.

Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, and Lewy Body dementia are different forms of the disease.

A major research paper was published showing that smoking is the third largest cause of dementia.

According to the World Health Organisation, the bad habit is estimated to cause 14 percent of cases of Alzheimer’s disease.

Another, more recent meta-review looked at over 37 studies on the subject and concluded that current smokers are 30 percent more likely to develop some form of dementia.

Exactly how smoking may cause dementia isn’t fully known, although researchers have been learning more about possible mechanisms over the years.

A well-known threat that comes from smoking is the conditions it can cause. Smoking heightens your risk of strokes.Strokes, aside from being devastating, can lead to the onset of vascular dementia – caused by the restricted blood flow to the brain during a stroke.

Smoking can wreak havoc on our blood vessels.

It can meddle with the structure of the vessels by ”making it harder for blood to flow freely around the body and into the brain”, explains the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “chemicals in cigarette smoke cause the cells that line blood vessels to become swollen and inflamed”.

Tobacco smoke also has the potential to damage the brain cells directly, the charity adds.

The charity explains: “We do know that inhaling tobacco smoke has been linked to oxidative stress.

“Oxidative stress is an imbalance between toxic molecules inside our cells and the antioxidants we need to remove them.

“This imbalance causes damage to cells in our body. Research has found that oxidative stress itself is connected to the onset of dementia.”

Early symptoms of dementia

Some symptoms of dementia are more obvious than others and they become increasingly so as the disease progresses.

You may notice someone with dementia has mood changes and may struggle to follow a conversation or find the right word, according to the NHS.

People with dementia are also often confused about time and place.

If you are concerned that you have dementia, visit your GP. But if you are concerned that someone you know has dementia, encourage them to go to their GP and could offer to go with them.

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