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January 2013

Smoke Exposure Linked to Dementia Risk

A recent study suggests that environmental tobacco smoke exposure is associated with dementia risk.

Dementia refers to a loss of cognitive function (an intellectual process resulting in an understanding, perception or awareness of one's thoughts and ideas). Dementia is actually a word for a group of symptoms caused by disorders that affect the brain. It is not a specific disease. Individuals with dementia may not be able to think well enough to do normal activities, such as getting dressed or eating. They may lose the ability to solve problems or control emotions and their personalities may change. These individuals may become agitated or hallucinate.

In a new study, researchers interviewed 5921 elderly individuals across five provinces in China about their tobacco smoke exposure. Researchers diagnosed participant severity of dementia by the Automated Geriatric Examination for Computer Assisted Taxonomy instrument.

About one quarter of participants had some degree of dementia. The chance of developing severe dementia was significantly linked to the level of second hand smoke exposure. This association held for both smokers and non-smokers. Furthermore, the risk of dementia increased with both the level and duration of tobacco smoke exposure.

Additional research is warrented.

For more information about dementia, please visit Natural Standard's Medical Conditions Database.


  1. Chen R, Wilson K, Chen Y et al. Association between environmental tobacco smoke exposure and dementia syndromes. Occup Environ Med. 2013 Jan;70(1):63-9. 
  2. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. 

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