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BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Previous studies relating smoking with the risk of dementia have been inconsistent and limited in their validity by short follow-up times, large intervals between baseline and follow-up assessments, and unspecific determination of dementia diagnosis. We re-assessed after longer follow-up time in the large population-based cohort of the Rotterdam Study whether smoking habits and pack-years of smoking are associated with the risk of dementia, Alzheimer disease (AD), and vascular dementia (VaD). METHODS: Prospective population-based cohort study in 6,868 participants, 55 years or older and free of dementia at baseline. First, Cox proportional hazard models were used to relate smoking status at baseline with the risks of incident dementia, VaD, and AD, using never smokers as the reference category in all analyses. Then Cox proportional hazard models were used to relate pack-years of smoking with the risks of incident dementia, VaD, and AD. To explore the impact of the APOEepsilon4 allele, sex, and age on the association between smoking status and dementia, we repeated all analyses stratifying, in separate models, by APOEepsilon4 genotype, sex, and median of age. RESULTS: After a mean follow-up time of 7.1 years, current smoking at baseline was associated with an increased risk of dementia (HR 1.47, 95% CI 1.18 to 1.86) and AD (HR 1.56, 95% CI 1.21 to 2.02). This increase in disease risk was restricted to persons without the APOEepsilon4 allele. There was no association between current smoking and risk of VaD, and there was no association between past smoking and risk of dementia, AD, or VaD. CONCLUSION: Current smoking increases the risk of dementia. This effect is more pronounced in persons without the APOEepsilon4 allele than APOEepsilon4 carriers.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





998 - 1005


Aged, Alleles, Alzheimer Disease, Apolipoprotein E4, Cohort Studies, Dementia, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Netherlands, Prospective Studies, Risk Factors, Smoking