Updated 20 May 2013

Alcoholics who smoke may face early brain ageing

Heavy drinking and chronic smoking are associated with early ageing of the brain, a research team reports.

Alcoholics who smoke have more problems with memory, problem solving and quick thinking than those who are non-smokers, researchers have found.

"The independent and interactive effects of smoking and other drug use on cognitive functioning among individuals with [alcohol dependence] are largely unknown," Alecia Dager, an associate research scientist in the department of psychiatry at Yale University, said in a journal news release. "This is problematic because many heavy drinkers also smoke. Furthermore, in treatment programs for alcoholism, the issue of smoking may be largely ignored," she noted.

In contrast, among participants with alcohol problems, "never-smokers and former-smokers showed equivalent changes on all measures with increasing age as the never-smoking controls," he explained.


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