Cognitive decline is a serious mental health issue affecting a large number of aging people, and tends to strike for a variety of reasons, sometimes without much of any warning. As the progress of medical science marches on, the search for effective treatments for dementia continues, though so far no adequate solutions have been developed.
A key focus for interested health professionals, then, is the prevention of dementia, and many studies are being conducted to determine which factors are most likely to play a role in the emergence of this health concern. One such study, carried out in the Netherlands at the National Institute Institute for Public Health and the Environment, has recently published results that represent the culmination of a five year research project into the possibility a link between tobacco smoking and dementia.
The project based its work on nearly two thousand male and female participants, about a tenth of which smoked cigarettes. Initially presenting participants with batteries of cognitive function and other tests, the researchers found that those who smoked performed more poorly than did their non-smoking counterparts. Upon retesting subjects five years later, the team discovered that the rates of mental decline were 1.9 times faster in the smoking group than in the non-smoking group.
This significant increase in the rate of mental decline suggests that smoking may play a key role in the early onset of dementia, and furthermore highlights the need for greater awareness of the risks associated with tobacco use. Through the administration of more competent and more widely-available smoking cessation therapy programs, it is hoped that a growing number of people will be able to kick the habit and preserve the health of their minds well into old age.
© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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