Second-hand smoke linked to dementia..

February 13, 2009 - A research study has for the first time shown a link between second-hand (environmental tobacco smoke, ETS, passive smoking, sidestream smoke, involuntary) exposure and development of dementia and other neurological problems in elderly non-smokers.

Previous research has highlighted the increased risk of dementia to active smokers.

PAPER: Exposure to secondhand smoke and cognitive impairment in non-smokers: national cross sectional study with cotinine measurement, David J Llewellyn, Iain A Lang, Kenneth M Langa, Felix Naughton, Fiona E Matthews, : BMJ 2009;338:b462, ABSTRACT..

The research, carried out by Dr David Llewellyn and his colleagues at Cambridge University, measured levels of cotinine — a by-product of nicotine — in saliva samples of nearly 5,000 non-smoking adults over the age of 50, to ascertain levels of exposure to second-hand smoke. Conducting a range of neuro-psychological tests, they were able to assess aspects of brain function including verbal memory and fluency, and numerical calculations. These results were added together to provide a global score for cognitive function. Those whose scores were in the lowest 10% were identified as suffering from cognitive impairment.

Based on the results, Dr Llewellyn and his team concluded exposure to second-hand smoke may be linked to an increased chance of developing dementia and other cognitive impairments. There are believed to be a number of explanations for this, |including the fact that passive smoking increases the risk of heart disease and stroke — both of which are known to increase the likelihood of neurological problems like dementia. Dr Llewellyn: “Our results suggest that inhaling other people's smoke may damage the brain, impair cognitive functions such as memory, and make dementia more likely.

“Given that passive smoking is also linked to other serious health problems such as heart disease and stroke, smokers should avoid lighting up near non-smokers.”

Altria's comment on second-hand smoke: Bill Phelps Spokesman for Altria Group Inc: "We think that people should be able to avoid being around second-hand smoke, especially in places they must go, such as government buildings and public transportation. But he added that "business owners, particularly those who own restaurants and bars, should be able determine smoking policy for their own businesses."

A few related news briefs: Bar workers who smoke also benefit from smoking ban..; Smoking bans lower heart attacks..; Secondhand (environmental,involuntary, passive) Smoke: Blood Vessel Damage Within Minutes.. and let's not forget about third hand smoke..Children are especially vulnerable to thirdhand smoke...

Second-hand smoke linked to dementia, study reveals
, Belfast Telegrapgh, 2/13/2009.

Click on enlarge to enlarge.. Image from blog of Wesley Smith..