Smoking is a major risk factor for stroke and other cardiovascular conditions, as well as cognitive decline, however the mechanism by which smoking affects the brain is unknown. New research, however, shows that smoking may have an ill effect on cortical thickness.
H. Cho, MD, of Samsung Medical Center in Seoul, Korea, and colleagues evaluated 977 cognitively-normal men. The participants underwent medical check-ups, including MRI, and were categorized into three groups: never a smoker, past smoker, or current smoker. Packs per year and years on smoking cessation were incorporated into the analysis.
Those who were current smokers showed cortical thinning in the frontal and temporo-parietal regions compared to participants who never smoked. This characteristic was especially apparent in smokers with a high cumulative exposure to smoking. No associated was found between smoking and severity of white matter hyperintensity or number of lacunes.
The researchers concluded that smoking may have a greater impact on neurodegeneration rather than cerebrovascular burden in cognitively normal men. Smoking, then, may be a strong modifiable risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
Smoking is a major risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia. However, the exact pathobiology of smoking remains unknown. The effects of smoking on cortical thickness as a biomarker of neurodegeneration or white matter hyperintensities and lacunes as biomarkers of cerebrovascular burden were concurrently evaluated.
Our study included 977 cognitively normal men who visited a health promotion centre and underwent medical check-ups, including 3.0 T magnetic resonance imaging. Participants were categorized into never smoker, past smoker or current smoker groups and pack-years and the years of smoking cessation were used as continuous variables.