A study published online in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that middle-age men who smoke aged their brains by 10 years. Intriguingly, smoking did not seem to have the same cognitive effects on women.
As reported in Medpagetoday:
“Current smoking conferred the equivalent of 10 years of aging on global cognition and executive function among men, Séverine Sabia, PhD, of University College London, and colleagues reported online in the
This effect might be expected to lead to dementia later in life, they noted.
Although their analysis of the Whitehall II cohort study of British civil servants couldn’t address that risk, other evidence from studies in the elderly has increasingly linked smoking and dementia.
Because the process that leads to dementia appears to start decades before clinical diagnosis, smoking cessation efforts need to target individuals at all ages, Sabia’s group concluded.
Smoking didn’t appear to have the same impact on women’s brains, perhaps because the women studied in the Whitehall II cohort didn’t smoke as heavily as the men, the researchers suggested.”
Gina Kolata writes in the New York Times about two new fascinating studies that show Alzheimer’s disease spread like an infection from cell to cell in the brain. What’s surprising, she writes:
“Instead of viruses or bacteria, what is being spread is a distorted protein known as tau.
The surprising finding answers a longstanding question and has immediate implications for developing treatments, researchers said. And they suspect that other degenerative brain diseases like Parkinson’s may spread in a similar way.
Alzheimer’s researchers have long known that dying, tau-filled cells first emerge in a small area of the brain where memories are made and stored. The disease then slowly moves outward to larger areas that involve remembering and reasoning.
But for more than a quarter-century, researchers have been unable to decide between two explanations. One is that the spread may mean that the disease is transmitted from neuron to neuron, perhaps along the paths that nerve cells use to communicate with one another. Or it could simply mean that some brain areas are more resilient than others and resist the disease longer.
The new studies provide an answer. And they indicate it may be possible to bring Alzheimer’s disease to an abrupt halt early on by preventing cell-to-cell transmission, perhaps with an antibody that blocks tau. “