Smokers have a higher chance of developing Alzheimer's disease or dementia, according to a new study.
The seven-year study of nearly 7,000 people age 55 and older found that current smokers were 50 percent more likely to develop dementia than people who had never smoked or had done so in the past.
Study author Dr Monique Breteler said: "Smoking increases the risk of cerebrovascular disease, which is also tied to dementia. Another mechanism could be through oxidative stress, which can damage cells in the blood vessels and lead to hardening of the arteries.
"Smokers experience greater oxidative stress than nonsmokers, and increased oxidative stress [which occurs when the body has too many free radicals] is also seen in Alzheimer's disease."
She added: "Antioxidants in the diet can eliminate free radicals, and studies have shown that smokers have fewer antioxidants in their diets than nonsmokers."
The full results of the study can be seen in the September 4th issue of Neurology.