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'Heavy smoking and drinking causes brain to deteriorate'

THE BRAINS of smokers and those who drink heavily deteriorate faster than people who avoid cigarettes and only drink in moderation, new research has found.

Researchers from University College London found smoking and drinking more than the recommended weekly amount speeds up cognitive decline by as much as 36 percent.

The results of the 10-year study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, involved more than 6,400 civil servants.

Each person was asked about their cigarette and alcohol consumption and had their verbal and mathematical reasoning, short-term verbal memory and verbal fluency were measured every four months.

On average, the brains of smokers who were also heavy drinkers aged by the equivalent of 12 years.

Dr Gareth Hagger-Johnson, lead researcher at UCL, said: “From a public health perspective, the increasing burden associated with cognitive ageing could be reduced if lifestyle factors can be modified.”

"Current advice is that smokers should stop or cut down and that people should avoid heavy alcohol drinking.”

The study defined heavy drinking as above 21 units per week for men and 14 units per week for women around 10 pints of lager or nine glasses of wine respectively.

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