Smoking is terrible for your health. There’s no way anyone doesn’t know that. It messes with your lungs, heart, oral health, and bones. But, there’s one area we tend not to consider. You rarely see smoking and memory loss in the same statement,
That said, smoking can hurt your memory considerably. Of course, it has indirect links with it. Cardiovascular disease may worsen cognitive function. Yet, some of its chemicals may target your memory directly.
It’s a complicated relationship. Some studies have shown that nicotine has cognitive benefits. But, the cons may outweigh these pros.
The relationship between smoking and memory loss is complicated. This study split respondents into three groups. Thus, it studied non-smokers, smokers, and former smokers.
Curiously, the study found some differences between non-smokers and current smokers. Cognitive function and self-evaluation memory experienced a drop in scores. Yet, former smokers seemed to score higher in self-evaluation and cognitive function.
How do cigarettes harm your memory?
Smoking harms your body in many ways. The same goes for memory loss. We may not know how cigarettes directly impact it. But, there are many ways cigarettes can hinder cognition.
For instance, we have cognitive decline. It’s a natural part of aging. But, smoking can speed up the process. Middle-aged male smokers suffered faster cognitive decline than non-smokers. The same goes for female smokers.
Likewise, we have dementia. Smokers are about 30% more likely to suffer dementia than non-smokers. Luckily, quitting greatly reverts this damage.
Then, we have brain volume. Smoking for long periods increases the risk of brain volume loss. That’s because smoking harms the subcortical brain regions. Thus, it speeds up volume loss.
Finally, we must consider stroke. Smokers run a greater risk of suffering a stroke. Smoking can double the risk for men and women. Stroke often results in major memory and cognitive problems. In many cases, patients can’t fully recover their cognitive capabilities.
The chemical relationship between smoking and memory loss
Ironically, nicotine can strengthen the synaptic connections of the hippocampus. Plus, it releases dopamine. Both effects benefit cognitive performance and memory considerably. But, that’s as far as the benefits go.
A cigarette has over 4,000 chemicals besides nicotine. These chemicals can cause atherosclerosis. Inflammation can damage neurons. Plus, dopamine only correlates with verbal memory. So, visual memory tasks remain impaired.
Smoking, vascular disease, and cognitive impairment
There are also vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia. Most issues related to blood vessels can decrease cognitive performance. And, smoking is a major cause of cardiovascular complications.
Women seem to experience the largest decrease in verbal learning performance. For men, it’s mainly cardiovascular complications. Still, it’s proof that smoking can impact verbal learning and memory.
Drinking, smoking, and memory loss
Finally, this study found a link between the three. Many drinkers also smoke. And, many people smoke while drinking. When combined, both drugs can harm prospective memory considerably.
Prospective memory is our ability to remember intentions. It allows us to remember planned actions for a specific time. An example is remembering to buy a gift for a friend’s birthday. So, that’s a strong link between smoking and memory loss.
The holistic takeaway
Smoking and memory loss have a complex relationship. It’s not entirely due to nicotine. Instead, you should be careful about all the chemicals you get into your body. Also, smoking has a larger impact on your prospective memory.
That means you could have trouble remembering intentions. You might forget to take certain medicines or deliver messages. So, it can impact your daily life in many ways.
That’s another reason why quitting is important. And, you can use ProMind Complex to strengthen your memory. It’s a natural supplement that keeps your brain young.
To learn how it works, check out my review.