Cigarette Smoking Increases Risk for Alzheimer’s

The research team found an association between tobacco industry affiliation and the conclusions of individual studies that fail to link the association. Industry-affiliated studies they noted indicated that smoking protects against the development of AD, while independent studies showed that smoking increased the risk of developing the disease. 

Study findings were published online in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.   For many years, published studies and popular media have perpetuated the myth that smoking is protective against the development of AD on medical researcher commented. 

The disease’s impact on quality of life and health care costs continues to rise notes Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance.  Smokers do not qualify for the lowest rates for long-term care insurance due to the anticipated added risk.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 5.3 million Americans currently have the disease, and that number will escalate rapidly as the baby boom generation ages. AD also triples health care costs for Americans aged 65 and older, the organization states. 

The UCSF team conducting the research reviewed 43 published studies from 1984 to 2007. Authors of one-fourth of the studies had an affiliation with the tobacco industry.  The researchers determined that the average risk of a smoker developing AD, based on studies without tobacco industry affiliation, was estimated to be 1.72, meaning that smoking nearly doubled the risk of AD. 

In contrast, the team found that studies authored by individuals with tobacco industry affiliations, showed a risk factor of .86 (less than one), suggesting that smoking protects against AD. When all studies were considered together, the risk factor for developing AD from smoking was essentially neutral at a statistically insignificant 1.05.

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