10-year European study finds increased cognitive decline in 14 countries due to lifestyle

A comprehensive ten-year study published in Nature Communications tracking over 32,000 cognitively healthy adults across 14 European countries has illuminated significant connections between lifestyle choices and cognitive decline, specifically in memory and verbal fluency.

The research, focusing on individuals aged between 50 and 104, scrutinized the impacts of smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity and social interaction on cognitive health.

Key findings indicate that the primary determinant of cognitive decline among various lifestyle factors was smoking status [2].

Comparatively, those who engaged in smoking experienced up to 0.17 standard deviations more decline in memory and up to 0.16 standard deviations in fluency over the decade when matched against a reference lifestyle of non-smoking, moderate or no alcohol consumption, regular physical activity and frequent social contact.

Interestingly, the study highlighted that non-smokers, regardless of other lifestyle choices, showed cognitive declines similar to those leading the healthiest lifestyles.

This suggests that while smoking significantly accelerates cognitive deterioration, other factors, like moderate alcohol intake, physical activity and social engagement, do not independently influence cognitive outcomes as much.

The research highlights the complex relationship between lifestyle behaviors and cognitive health, advocating for targeted public health strategies that prioritize smoking cessation and promote holistic wellbeing practices to mitigate cognitive decline.

This extensive study, with its large sample size and lengthy follow-up period, provides a critical foundation for further exploration into how lifestyle factors can be optimized to enhance cognitive longevity and prevent the onset of dementia and related disorders [2].

[1] https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-024-49262-5
[2] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/376681511_LIFESTYLE_MEDICINE_EMPOWERING_HEALTH_THROUGH_BEHAVIOR_MODIFICATIONS

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