Age Scotland and ASH Scotland highlight claim that smoking increases dementia risk by up to 70%
Today, at the start of Dementia Awareness Week, Age Scotland and ASH Scotland have highlighted the need for greater understanding of the link between smoking and dementia, with research showing that heavy smoking can increase the risk of developing dementia by up to 70% (1).
The charities have also jointly published an information leaflet ‘Smoking and Dementia’ which provides advice on the impact smoking has on a range of health conditions, including dementia, as well as details on what support is available for those who wish to stop smoking.
While the link between smoking and heart disease is well understood as a result of extensive public health campaigns, far fewer people are aware of the link with dementia. A Scottish Social Attitudes Survey published last year showed that for each of the five risk factors for dementia, including smoking, only between a quarter and a half of respondents correctly identified these behaviours as risk factors (2). However, evidence published by the World Health Organization and Alzheimer’s Disease International estimated that 14% of Alzheimer’s disease cases worldwide are potentially attributable to smoking (3).
Another recent study has shown that increases in the number of people with dementia have not been as high as previously thought, with researchers suggesting a reduction in smoking the number of people may have contributed to this lower prevalence (4).
‘Smoking and Dementia’ has been published through Age Scotland’s Early Stage Dementia Project, which is funded by the Life Changes Trust. The Life Changes Trust is funded by the Big Lottery.
Launching the publication, Brian Sloan, Chief Executive of Age Scotland said:
“Age Scotland wants to get the message out there that healthy active ageing can reduce your risk of dementia. Action on smoking is an important part of that work, and we know from speaking to many older people that there is a relatively low level of awareness of the link between smoking and dementia, particularly in relation to vascular dementia. That is why we are very happy to collaborate with ASH Scotland who do such tremendous work in raising awareness of the impact of smoking, and we hope more people will be encouraged and helped to stop smoking through reading ‘Smoking and Dementia.’
Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive of ASH Scotland, said:“Nearly a quarter of a million Scots in the 45-60 age group alone are significantly increasing their risk of developing dementia because of smoking (5). Most of them are unaware of the strong link between smoking and dementia so we want to help people make better informed decisions about their health, boost their motivation to quit smoking and try to reduce the number of these people who will go on to develop dementia in the future.”
- Anstey KJ, von Sanden C, Salim A, O’Kearney R. Smoking as a risk factor for dementia and cognitive decline: a meta-analysis of prospective studies. American Journal of Epidemiology 2007; 166: 367–78. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17573335
- The figure is from a Scottish Household Survey (2014) figure of 21% smoking prevalence in this age group, with estimate of total population in that age range being 1,156,000 from http://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/statistics-and-data/statistics/statistics-by-theme/population/population-estimates/mid-year-population-estimates/mid-2014/list-of-tables