HealthDay News — After adjusting for the competing risk of death without dementia, smoking is not associated with an increased risk for dementia, according to a study published online March 26 in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Erin L. Abner, PhD, from the University of Kentucky in Lexington, and colleagues examined tobacco smoking as a risk for dementia and neuropathologic burden in 531 initially cognitively normal older adults, followed for an average of 11.5 years.

The researchers found that 20.9% of the participants were diagnosed with dementia and 45.6% died without dementia. The hazard ratio for dementia was 1.64 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.09 to 2.46) for former smokers vs never smokers and 1.20 (95% CI, 0.50 to 2.87) for current smokers vs never smokers. The subdistribution hazard ratio (sHR) was 1.21 (95% CI, 0.81 to 1.80) for former smokers and 0.70 (95% CI, 0.30 to 1.64) for current smokers in the Fine-Gray model, which accounts for the competing risk of death without dementia. Current smoking was associated with an increased incidence of death without dementia (sHR, 2.38; 95% CI, 1.52 to 3.72).

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“This may have implications for the current focus on smoking cessation as a modifiable risk for dementia,” the authors write. “We emphasize that this is not to say that efforts invested in smoking cessation are misguided or unimportant.”

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