A study of nearly 6,000 people in China found that those exposed to passive smoking have a significantly increased risk of severe dementia.
Passive smoking, or second-hand smoke, is known to cause serious cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Not until this study, though, was there any evidence connecting it to dementia.
China has a high number of smokers and dementia
China is the largest consumer of tobacco in the world with more than 350 million smokers. The Chinese government has actively promoted smoke-free areas in hospitals, schools and public transport since 2006.
However, more than 50 percent of the population is exposed to second-hand smoke on a daily basis. Interestingly, China also has the highest number of dementia sufferers in the world with numbers increasing as the population ages.
For the study, 5,921 people over age 60 were asked to characterize their levels of second-hand smoke exposure and any smoking habits, and to assess their level of dementia. About 10 percent of those interviewed were found to have severe dementia syndromes. People with severe dementia were non-smokers, past or current smokers.
Smoking is 'a huge burden on society'
“Passive smoking should be considered an important risk factor for severe dementia syndromes, as this study in China shows,” said Dr. Ruoling Chen, a visiting professor at Anhui Medical University.
“Avoiding exposure to ETS may reduce the risk of severe dementia syndromes. China, along with many other countries, now has a significantly aging population, so dementia has a significant impact not only on the patients but on their families and carers. It’s a huge burden on society.”
Ruoling went on to suggest that urgent preventive measures be taken in China as well as other countries with high rates of smoking.
Source: MedicalNewsToday, Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Photo by John Nyboer