Smokers have a 45 per cent higher risk of developing all forms of dementia than non-smokers, and 14 per cent of Alzheimer’s disease cases worldwide are estimated to be potentially attributable to smoking according to a new report published today by the World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI).
The report highlights that evidence shows:
- The more a person smokes, the higher their risk of developing the condition.
- Passive smoking may also increase a person’s risk of dementia.
The report recognises that tobacco use is already recognised as the one risk factor common to four main groups of non-communicable diseases (NCDs): cancers; cardiovascular disease; chronic lung disease; and diabetes. ADI suggests that this information should influence countries to include brain health and dementia risk messaging into public health anti-smoking programmes and interventions.
The full report can be accessed here: http://www.who.int/tobacco/publications/en/
‘We have long since known there is a link between tobacco and dementia. This shocking estimate that so many cases of Alzheimer’s may be linked to smoking surely means we must count the global burden of the condition alongside the millions of deaths we already know are caused by tobacco. With 44 million people worldwide living with dementia it is now time to rank the condition alongside others like cancer and heart disease when we talk about tackling smoking.
‘With no cure yet for dementia, we need more research to gain a better understanding about how lifestyle factors can increase risk and a significant public health effort to attempt to reduce the number of future cases of the condition.’
The Blackfriars Consensus*, says that ‘action to tackle smoking, drinking, sedentary behaviour and poor diet could reduce the risk of dementia in later life as well as other conditions such as heart disease, stroke and many cancers.’
It goes on to say that the ‘scientific evidence on dementia risk reduction is now sufficient to justify action and argues that dementia risk reduction needs to be incorporated into health policies and that there is a need to raise wider awareness about the potential for reducing people’s risk of developing dementia.’
*The Consensus is a statement on dementia risk reduction published by Public Health England (PHE) and the UK Health Forum and signed by 60 leading figures and organisations from across the dementia and public health community.