Home Health & Fitness Smoking menthol cigarettes could help REDUCE symptoms of Alzheimer’s, study finds

Smoking menthol cigarettes could help REDUCE symptoms of Alzheimer’s, study finds



Inhaling menthol could help stave off Alzheimer’s symptoms in some patients, a study suggests.

Spanish researchers found that the substance found in cigarettes, candy, and other mint-flavored goods lowered levels of proteins that caused Alzheimer’s-related brain swelling in mice.

It is a rare study that finds a potential benefit in smoking. However, doctors would likely a person eat mints or sniff other menthol-flavored goods instead.

Smoking has long been shown to increase the risks of cognitive decline related to Alzheimer’s.

It does this by increasing the risk of vascular problems, including strokes and brain bleeds, which are risk factors for Alzheimer’s. Additionally, the toxins in cigarette smoke and inflame and stress cells,. 

A new study, published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology, found that smelling menthol for short bursts of time could prevent cognitive decline (file photo)

A new study, published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology, found that smelling menthol for short bursts of time could prevent cognitive decline (file photo)

The study, which was performed on mice and published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology, found that repeatedly smelling the substance, even briefly, can prevent cognitive deterioration, a side effect of Alzheimer’s onset. 

The aroma lowered levels of interleukin-1-beta, a protein that impacts the body’s inflammatory response. 

‘This study is an important step toward understanding the connection between the immune system, the central nervous system and smell, as the results suggest that odors and immune modulators may play an important role in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s,’ study author Dr. Noelia Casares said in a media release. 

Menthol is a naturally occurring chemical in peppermint and other mint plants. 

In addition to cigarettes, it’s also used as flavoring in foods, liquors, cosmetics, and perfumes.

It was added to tobacco in the 1920s and 1930s to reduce the harshness of cigarette smoke and nicotine irritation, according to the American Lung Association. It also gives them a minty flavor. 

Smoking, however, has long been linked to increased risks of cognitive decline and disorders such as Alzheimer’s. 

A 2017 Lancet Commission on dementia, for example, ranked smoking third among nine modifiable risk factors for dementia. 

Additionally, the World Health Organization estimates that 14 percent of Alzheimer’s cases worldwide could potentially be attributed to smoking. 

A 2015 analysis of 37 different studies in the journal PLOS ONE found that current smokers are 40 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. 

In the new study, researchers examined the effects of menthol on male and female mice for six months. 

They found that the aroma lowered levels of the protein interleukin-1-beta. 

This led to less inflammation in the brain, a marker of Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers then gave the mice memory tests and found that their cognitive abilities had improved. 

The risks go beyond cognitive decline. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking, and that for every person who dies from smoking, at least 30 people have a serious related illness. 

Smoking has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease and stroke by two to four times. The likelihood of developing lung cancer is nearly 25 times higher. 

This new study comes a year after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced moves to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes in the US, as well as flavored cigars. 

The agency noted that the measure would save the lives of 92,000 to 238,000 African Americans, who are more likely to smoke menthol cigarettes. About 80 percent of Black smokers choose menthol. 

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, a group of diseases that mark progressive and permanent cognitive decline. 

It impedes functions like thinking, remembering, and reasoning. Alzheimer’s accounts for 60 to 80 percent of all dementia cases, the Alzheimer’s Association estimates. 

More than 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, and by 2050, that number is projected to more than double. 

There are better-established ways to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia without inhaling menthol, however.  

A 2022 study published in Neurology found that regular exercise and physical activity, doing household chores, and visiting with family and friends led to a lower risk of several types of dementia. 

In 2015, a study published in the Lancet found that a healthy diet, exercise, mental stimulation, and monitoring cardiovascular health worked together to reduce dementia risk.

Even if you already smoke, quitting can still hold benefits.  

A 2019 study from the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that smokers’ increase risk for dementia decreased over time when they quit.

Eventually, after nine years, the likelihood was no longer higher than non-smokers’. 


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