Smoking can impair the impair the ability to learn and memorise things, particularly among women, according to new research.

In the largest study which has ever looked at how smoking and cardiovascular disease might impact cognitive function, researchers have found cigarettes can do significant damage.

A team from the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in America has found the effects of smoking do impact the brain, and are seemingly more pronounced among women than men.

Senior author Dr Matt Huentelman, TGen Professor of Neurogenomics, said: “These results suggest that smoking and cardiovascular disease impact verbal learning and memory throughout adulthood, starting as early as age 18.

“Smoking is associated with decreased learning and memory function in women, while cardiovascular is associated with decreased learning and memory function in men.”

Alzheimer’s disease is most commonly associated with cognitive impairment but another condition has also been linked to brain impairment which is called Vascular Contributions to Cognitive Impairment and Dementia (VCID).

This study has identified important findings because cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of disease and death worldwide. It is also an important predictor of cognitive decline and VCID.

Dr Brian Tiep, director of pulmonary rehabilitation and smoking cessation, said: “This study points out some unpredicted but important differences between the sexes relating to cognitive decline.

“The impact on mental acuity seems progressive over time – some more rapid than others. Living habits related to diet, exercise and smoking certainly are consequential and may differ between men and women. People undergoing cancer care may be cognitively effected by the cancer and its treatment.

“This study supports the importance of maintaining cardiovascular health and quitting smoking not only in support of their cancer care but to improve brain function.”

The findings of the study have been published in the Scientific Reports journal.

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