Although it has been known for a long time that smoking and diabetes increase the risk of cancer and heart disease, researchers have warned that it can clog the brain region crucial for memory, increasing the risk of dementia.
The findings showed that smoking and diabetes may be related to an increased risk of calcification (calcium salt deposits) in the hippocampus, an important brain structure for both short-term and long-term memory storage. The decline in hippocampal functions has been associated with Alzheimer's disease, the most common type of dementia.
"We believe that smoking and diabetes are risk factors," said lead author Esther JM of Brouwer, a geriatrician at the University Medical Center. in the Netherlands.
"In a recent histopathological study, it was discovered that hippocampal calcifications are a manifestation of vascular disease." It is well known that smoking and diabetes are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. diabetes are risk factors for hippocampal calcifications, "de Brouwer added.
In the study, published in the journal Radiology, the team studied the association between vascular risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes and smoking, and hippocampal calcifications in 1,991 patients with an average age of 78 years.
They also evaluated the effects of calcifications on cognitive function.
Patients had a standard diagnostic study that included cognitive tests and brain scans.
While the study was not designed to conclusively determine whether smoking and diabetes increase the risk of hippocampal calcifications, the results suggest a link.
Of the patients, 380 or 19.1% showed calcifications of the hippocampus. Older age, diabetes and smoking were associated with an increased risk of hippocampal calcifications on computerized tomography.
"We know that calcifications in the hippocampus are common, especially with increasing age," de Brouwer said.
"However, I did not know if the calcifications in the hippocampus were related to cognitive function," he added.