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Global Health
February 20, 2013

Tobacco Smoke and Dementia

JAMA. 2013;309(7):649-649. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.503

Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) may increase the risk of severe dementia, according to a large population-based study conducted in China (Chen R et al. Occup Environ Med. 2013;70[1]:63-69).

Researchers interviewed 5921 people aged 60 years or older who had lived for at least 5 years in communities in several Chinese provinces. They characterized the participants' smoking habits and exposure to ETS and assessed their levels of dementia syndromes. About 10% of those interviewed (626 participants) had severe dementia syndromes, and those exposed to ETS had a significantly higher risk. The effect of ETS was dose-dependent and involved people who had never smoked as well as former and current smokers, suggesting that ETS should be considered an important risk factor for severe dementia syndromes.