Secondhand Smoke Linked to Dementia
New research from Hong Kong reports changes in the brains of rats which were regularly exposed to smoky air.
With frustrating vagueness reflecting the limitations of our knowledge, the Mayo Clinic website reports Alzheimer’s disease is caused by “a combination of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors.” Newly published research provides evidence that one of those environmental factors may be secondhand cigarette smoke.
Researchers in Hong Kong report chronic exposure to smoky air apparently affected the brains of rats. “These changes might serve as evidence of early phases of neurodegeneration,” they write in the online journal PLoS ONE, “and may explain why smoking can predispose brains to Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.”
Echoing the conclusions of a 2008 study from England, a 2010 paper published in the American Journal of Epidemiology reported a link between lifetime exposure to secondhand smoke and an increased risk of dementia, at least in certain elderly individuals. A research team led by Yuen-Shan Ho of the University of Hong Kong’s Laboratory of Neurodegenerative Diseases used male Sprague-Dawley rats to try to determine the medical reasons underlying this linkage.