Bad news, smokers: The nicotine habit doesn't just hurt your lungs, it also rots your brain, according to a new study. Researchers gave brain tests to participants over the age of 50, and repeated those tests after four years and again after eight. They found a "consistent association" between smoking and lower scores, the BBC reports. There was also an association, although not as strong, between lower scores and high blood pressure or being overweight.
What's more, those who experienced the biggest decline in the tests over the years were also at the greatest risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Researchers say the work is important because it identifies "modifiable" risk factors. Says one, "We need to make people aware of the need to do some lifestyle changes because of the risk of cognitive decline." The Alzheimer's Society adds, "We all know smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and a high BMI is bad for our heart. This research adds to the huge amount of evidence that also suggests they can be bad for our head too." (Read more smoking stories.)