Seniors who smoke may be more likely to become frail, a new British study suggests.
Researchers tracked more than 2,500 people 60 and older in England and found that current smoking boosted that risk by about 60 percent. The scientists determined that the participants were frail if they had at least three of five conditions: unintentional weight loss, self-reported exhaustion, weakness, slow walking speed, and low physical activity.
Frail people are at higher risk of problems such as falls, broken bones and hospitalization. Researchers have also linked frailty to poor quality of life and dementia.
Interestingly, the researchers found that former smokers didn’t face a higher risk of frailty, and it didn’t matter if they’d quit within the past 10 years or earlier. In fact, their risks of frailty were about the same as those who had never smoked.
The research team also found evidence that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a respiratory condition that is typically brought on by years of smoking, boosts the risk of frailty.
But the study did not prove that smoking caused frailty risk to rise, just that there was an association.
The study was published recently in the journal Age & Ageing.
“Our study showed that current smoking is a risk factor of developing frailty. Additional analyses revealed that COPD seems a main factor on the causal pathway from smoking towards frailty,” study author Dr. Gotaro Kojima said in a journal news release. “But those who quit smoking did not carry over the risk of frailty.”
Kojima is geriatrics specialist from University College London.
For details about how to quit smoking, visit the smokefree.gov.