Smoking causes memory loss

Brain damage from smoking can go away

The thinning of the cerebral cortex caused by smoking seems to slowly decrease when you stop smoking. However, especially in the case of heavy smokers, it could take several decades for the lost gray matter to be regained, write the researchers working with Sharif Kamara from McGill University in Montreal. The fact that smoking damages the brain and probably also promotes dementia has been considered certain for some time, but the underlying mechanisms are only incompletely known, as is whether the damage is reversible. The current study suggests that it is.

Kamara and his colleagues examined a total of 504 survivors of the Scottish Mental Survey, which has been running since 1947 and whose lifelong smoking history is known, using magnetic resonance imaging. The group consisted of 36 smokers and 223 people who had stopped smoking in the meantime. The researchers found a correlation between smoke intensity and brain atrophy, but also that the brain seemed to have increased in mass the longer the respondents had not smoked. How this comes about is still unclear, as the cerebral cortex generally shrinks slowly in adults - the additional brain loss from smoking should therefore actually be retained. The researchers suspect that the cortex has a thickness that is typical for all ages, to which the brain develops again after the end of cigarette consumption.