"We know that active smoking is bad -- being a smoker is bad for your health and increases your risk of Alzheimer's. This study suggests that this is the same for passive smoking," Lang said. "We know that passive smoking is associated with an increased risk of stroke and heart disease. This is just another reason to avoid exposing other people to your smoke, and if you are not a smoker to stay away from smoking places."
Maria Carrillo, director of medical and scientific relations for the Alzheimer's Association, said this study offers more evidence of the dangers of secondhand smoke and the risk for dementia. Smoking is already recognized as a risk factor for Alzheimer's, and the risk can be extended to exposure to secondhand smoke, she said.
"There are findings that secondhand smoke can be just as detrimental as smoking itself," Carrillo said. "We recommend that people do not smoke and try to reduce their exposure to secondhand smoke as well."
Dr. Mark Eisner, an associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and author of an accompanying editorial in the journal, said, "This study should provide further motivation for public policy aimed at making all public spaces smoke-free."
For more on secondhand smoke, visit the American Lung Association.
SOURCES: Iain Lang, Ph.D., research fellow, Public Health and Epidemiology Group, Peninsula Medical School, Exeter, England; Maria Carrillo, Ph.D., director, Medical and Scientific Relations, Alzheimer's Association, Chicago; Mark Eisner, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of medicine, University of California, San Francisco; Feb. 13, 2009, BMJ.com, online
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