Monday 17 December 2018
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Nicotine improves cognitive ability, says study

Nicotine has been shown to improve cognitive performance in smokers who have stopped smoking according to a study published today in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology

Previous short-term studies with nicotine have shown attention and memory improvement in people with Alzheimer's disease. This study looked the effects of nicotine on people with mild cognitive impairment, which is the stage between normal aging and dementia when people have mild memory or thinking problems but no significant disability.

The study was published in the January 10, 2012, print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Alzheimer's Society comment:

'This is an interesting preliminary study that builds on previous evidence of the possible benefits of nicotine. While the findings indicate some limited improvements in memory, attention and mental processing, further studies are needed to establish whether the findings are clinically important.

People should under no circumstances consider self-medicating with nicotine patches or cigarettes. A great deal more research is needed into this area, and the health risks of smoking massively outweigh any potential nicotine benefits. The best way to reduce your risk of developing dementia is to get regular exercise, eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, stop smoking and limit your alcohol intake.'

Dr Anne Corbett
Research Manager
Alzheimer's Society