Smoking history and physical performance in midlife: Results from the British 1946 birth cohort

Strand, Bjorn Heine, Mishra, Gita, Kuh, Diana, Guralnik, Jack M. and Patel, Kushang V. (2011) Smoking history and physical performance in midlife: Results from the British 1946 birth cohort. Journals of Gerontology Series A-Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 66A 1: 142-149. doi:10.1093/gerona/glq199

Author Strand, Bjorn Heine
Mishra, Gita
Kuh, Diana
Guralnik, Jack M.
Patel, Kushang V.
Title Smoking history and physical performance in midlife: Results from the British 1946 birth cohort
Journal name Journals of Gerontology Series A-Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1079-5006
Publication date 2011-01-01
Year available 2010
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1093/gerona/glq199
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 66A
Issue 1
Start page 142
End page 149
Total pages 8
Place of publication Cary, NC, United States
Publisher Oxford University Press
Language eng
Abstract Telomere length is hypothesised to be a biological marker of both cognitive and physical ageing. Here we measure telomere length, and cognitive and physical abilities at mean ages 70, 73 and 76 years in the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 (LBC1936), and at mean ages 79, 87, 90 and 92 years in the Lothian Birth Cohort 1921 (LBC1921). We investigate whether telomere length change predicts change in cognitive and physical abilities. In LBC1936 telomere length decreased by an average of 65 base pairs per year and in LBC1921 by 69 base pairs per year. However, change in telomere length did not predict change in cognitive or physical abilities. This study shows that, although cognitive ability, walking speed, lung function and grip strength all decline with age, they do so independently of telomere length shortening.
Formatted abstract
Background. The adverse effects of smoking on individual medical conditions are well known; however, the cumulative effect of smoking on physical performance is not well characterized, particularly in midlife.

Methods. In the British 1946 Birth Cohort Study, cigarette pack-years were examined with standing balance, chair rising, grip strength, and an overall composite index. Pack-years were calculated from data collected at ages 20, 25, 31, 36, 43, and 53 years, whereas physical performance, cognitive function, anthropometry, and spirometry were assessed at age 53 years in 2,394 men and women. Regression and cubic splines were used to assess the relationship between pack-years and physical performance.

. Greater pack-years smoked were associated with lower overall physical performance and lower performance in standing balance and chair rising; however, there was no association with grip strength. For every 10 pack-years smoked, the overall physical performance index decreased by 0.11 SD (95% confidence interval: 0.07–0.15, p < .001), standing balance time decreased by 0.09 SD (0.05–0.13), and the reciprocal of chair rise time decreased by 0.11 SD (0.07–0.16). Adjustment for education, social class, lung function, cognitive function, and medical conditions attenuated the effect, but pack-years remained significantly associated with standing balance and chair rising time.

Conclusions. Lifetime cigarette pack-years are strongly related to physical performance in the fifth decade of life, suggesting that smokers will enter older adulthood with decreased physiological reserve. As smoking prevalence remains high in many developed countries and is rapidly growing in developing countries, these findings underscore the need for effective smoking cessation and prevention programs.
Keyword Physical performance
Cigarette pack years
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Grant ID MR/M013111/1
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Non HERDC
School of Public Health Publications
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