Smoking doubles risk of dementia

Blog: “The chemicals in cigarette smoke is also causing damage to our brains”

As part of No Smoking Day (8 March) Advanced Public Health Practitioner, and the Smoking Cessation lead for Liverpool, Ian Canning shares the latest research, and how stopping smoking not only reduces the risk of developing illnesses like heart disease and cancer – but will reduce the risk of developing dementia.

“Many people will already know that smoking increases the risk of developing illnesses like cancer, high blood pressure or heart disease – but research commissioned by ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) also shows that the chemicals in cigarette smoke which causes damage to our hearts and lungs, is also causing damage to our brains.

These chemicals can speed up the natural ageing of the brain – and in turn double the risk of developing dementia.

Research suggests that locally, fewer than 20% of people are aware that smoking could cause dementia (compared to around three quarters who know of the links to cancer, or lung disease).

So, to help raise awareness of this issue, the theme for this year’s national ‘No Smoking Day’ is focussing on encouraging smokers to quit and protect their ‘brain health’ too.

Alzheimer’s Research UK has conducted research which shows dementia is the most feared health condition for people over the age of 55 – more so than any other life-threatening disease – including cancer and diabetes.

Smoking raises the risk of developing dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia, as it harms the vascular system (heart and blood vessels) and the brain.

The study also suggests that quitting could prevent or delay up to 40% of dementia cases – which is really significant.

Quitting smoking can add as much as a decade to life expectancy and is the single best thing a smoker can do to improve their health.

The benefits can be felt within weeks of stopping – related to both health and wealth.

Breathing becomes easier and with an average smoker spending around £50 a week on cigarettes or tobacco – that’s £2,500 a year to spend on other things once you quit – and will make a real difference to people’s pockets at this time.

My message as ever, is that quitting smoking can be life changing.

People should never give up on giving up (and that it’s never too late, even if they are already unwell from smoking related illnesses.)

Smokers are three times more likely to succeed in quitting when they receive help from a trained professional (compared to will power alone) and help is always available from our local stop smoking service.

Every time you try to stop smoking, you’re a step closer to success.”

People can contact Smokefree Liverpool by telephone for free on 0800 061 4212, text QUIT to 66777 or get in touch via their website

Liverpool Waterfront