How smoking damages the BRAIN

Smokers have a thinner outer brain layer than non-smokers, scientists have discovered.

Past studies have long linked smoking to heightened risk of cancer and lung disease.

And research has shown smokers are more likely to endure premature ageing, gum disease, go on to develop Alzheimer’s and heart disease.

But if that long list is not reason enough to stub out your last cigarette, a new study has revealed the damaging effect smoking has on the brain.

Scientists in Edinburgh and Montreal found the brain cortex is thicker in non-smokers than smokers.

The cortex is the outer layer of the brain in which critical cognitive functions such as memory, language and perception take place.

They cautiously suggest that the cortex might regain some thickness once smokers quit the habit.

But they added that was not seen in all regions of the brain.

The study gathered health data and examined MRI scans of 224 men and 260 women with an average age of 73, around half of whom were former or current smokers.

The scientists from Edinburgh University and McGill University, analysed how a person’s smoking habit was linked with the thickness of the brain’s cortex using detailed MRI brain scans, careful image analysis and statistical models.

Professor Ian Deary, from the University of Edinburgh, who led the research, said: ‘It is important to know what is associated with brain health in older age.

‘From these data we have found a small link between smoking and having thinner brain grey matter in some regions.

By Lizzie Parry for MailOnline, dailymail.co.uk

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