In the largest study on associations between smoking and cardiovascular disease on cognitive function, researchers at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), a subsidiary of City of Hope, found that both impaired the ability to learn and to memorize; and that the effects of smoking are more pronounced in women, while men are more weakened by cardiovascular disease.
The results appear today in the journal Scientific reports.
Previous attempts to quantify cognitive function in smokers and assess gender differences have produced mixed results. TGen researchers attribute this to the limited size of previous datasets. By analyzing data representing more than 70,000 people worldwide – generated by TGen’s online cognitive test called MindCrowd – the present study produced results that indicate definitive trends.
“These results suggest that smoking and cardiovascular disease impact verbal learning and memory throughout adulthood, starting at age 18,” said Matt Huentelman, Ph.D., TGen professor of neurogenomics, founder of MindCrowd and lead author of the study. “Smoking is associated with decreased learning function and memory in women, while the cardiovascular system is associated with decreased learning function and memory in men.”
Besides Alzheimer’s disease, the most important cause of cognitive decline is known as “vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia” or VCID, which results from stroke and other brain damage. vascular diseases that cause significant changes in memory, thinking and behavior: smoking and cardiovascular disease exacerbate VCID.
“The reasons for these sex-modifying effects are not fully understood,” said Candace Lewis, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Huentelman’s lab and lead author of the study. “Our results underscore the importance of considering biological sex in studying vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia.”
The results of this study are important, Dr Lewis said, because smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the country, accounting for nearly one in 5 deaths, and cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of illness and deaths worldwide, and are an important predictor of cognitive decline and VCID. Vascular disease is also associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, which is the sixth leading cause of death in the country.
Because the study included a wide range of adults between the ages of 18 and 85, it allowed researchers to assess the relationship between smoking, cardiovascular disease, and verbal memory in the broader age group of the study used to date.
The researchers noted that few studies had previously evaluated the effects of cardiovascular disease in young adults and that understanding the relationship between cardiovascular disease and cognitive function in young adults may be necessary to understand treatment options and intervention.
“This study highlights unanticipated but important gender differences in cognitive decline,” said Brian Tiep, MD, director of pulmonary rehabilitation and smoking cessation for City of Hope. “The impact on mental acuity appears to be gradual over time – some faster than others. Lifestyle habits related to diet, exercise and smoking are certainly consistent and may differ between men. and women. his treatment. “
“This study supports the importance of maintaining cardiovascular health and quitting smoking not only to support their cancer care, but also to improve brain function,” added Dr. Tiep.
Also contributing to this study: the Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute at the University of Miami, the Miami Clinical and Translational Science Institute, and the University of Arizona.
The study – Smoking is associated with impaired verbal learning and memory performance in women more than men – received support from: Mueller Family Charitable Trust, Department of Health Services Arizona through the Arizona Alzheimer Consortium, Flinn Foundation, The McKnight Brain Research Foundation and a grant from the National Institute on Aging. The TGen Foundation has led philanthropic efforts to support MindCrowd.