Nicotine patches may help counteract mild memory loss in seniors

The Washington Post asks, “Research has indicated that smokers may have a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. Might nicotine patches offer memory benefits, too?”

The Los Angeles Times “Booster Shots” blog reports, “Older people with mild cognitive impairment may get some help from a nicotine patch,” according to a study published in the journal Neurology.

HealthDay explains that for the study, “researchers recruited 74 nonsmoking seniors with mild cognitive problems and watched what happened to 34 who received treatment with nicotine patches (15 milligrams a day) and 33 who got placebo patches for six months.” Seven participants did not complete the study.

Each participant “showed signs of early memory loss, but their symptoms were not severe enough to qualify for a diagnosis of dementia,” WebMD reports.

“By the end of the study, the patients who had worn the nicotine patches were better able to pay attention, and they also demonstrated better long-term memory than patients who didn’t use the nicotine patches.”

What’s more, the effect appeared to become more substantial over time.

However, “nicotine therapy was associated with a small reduction in blood pressure and weight loss of about five pounds at the end of the study period. In elderly adults, this is not always a healthy thing,” WebMD adds.

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