Tuesday, February 7, 2012

More Scientific Validation For The Word Of Wisdom: London Researchers Discover Connection Between Smoking And Early Dementia

On February 27th, 1833, the first President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph Smith Jr, warned of the dangers of tobacco when he published the Word of Wisdom. Canonized as Section 89 of the Doctrine & Covenants, he wrote "tobacco is not for the body, neither for the belly, and is not good for man, but is an herb for bruises and all sick cattle, to be used with judgment and skill".

But the Lord did not share the technical details of the problems of tobacco with Joseph Smith; He expected the Saints to take it on faith. It wasn't until 1940 that science first discovered the problems with tobacco use after German doctors became the first to identify the link between smoking and lung cancer. Since then, more evidence of the hazards of smoking has been uncovered, including the dangers of second-hand smoke. But it shows that whenever the Lord gives a command based upon faith, objective validation eventually follows.

Now, even more scientific validation has been released. According to the Daily Mail, a group of researchers at University College London have found that smoking in men appears to be associated with a greater and more rapid onset of dementia later in life. Dr. Severine Sabia and her colleagues analyzed data using six assessments of smoking status over 25 years and three cognitive assessments over 10 years. They made four key findings.

-- Smoking in men is associated with more rapid cognitive decline
-- Men who continued to smoke over the follow-up experienced greater decline in all cognitive tests.
-- Men who quit smoking in the 10 years preceding the first cognitive measure were still at risk of greater cognitive decline, although long-term ex-smokers did not show faster cognitive decline.
-- Association between smoking and cognition, particularly at older ages, is likely to be underestimated owing to higher risk of death and dropout among smokers.

An ABC News report adds more information. The London researchers said there are several other factors that could explain the connection between smoking and mental decline. One reason could lie in the way smoking affects the heart, lungs and blood vessels. Because smoking ups the risk of vascular disease, it could limit the body's ability to deliver the blood, oxygen and nutrients the brain needs to function at its best. One American researcher, Philip Harvey, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Miami School of Medicine, said the addictive nature of cigarettes may also take a toll on the brain, noting that molecules of nicotine in the brain latch onto the same brain receptors involved in attention, concentration and memory.

The findings have been published online under the title "Impact of Smoking on Cognitive Decline in Early Old Age: The Whitehall II Cohort Study" in the February 2012 edition of Archives of General Psychiatry. Although the full text requires payment, the free abstract reveals that the cognitive test battery was composed of tests of memory, vocabulary, executive function (composed of one reasoning and two fluency tests), and a global cognitive score summarizing performance across all five tests. Data are from 5099 men and 2137 women, mean age 56 years (range, 44-69 years).

But our Heavenly Father already knew all of this, and chose to share the information with Joseph Smith in 1833 through revelation. Consequently, since that time, those who've chosen to obey the Word of Wisdom, have, as promised in Section 89, received health in their navel and marrow to their bones, have found wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures, have run without becoming weary, and have walked without becoming faint.

While the entire Word of Wisdom is of value, the successors of Joseph Smith have defined the accountable portion as coffee, tea, tobacco, and alcohol. These are the four substances upon which temple access hinges. Consequently, if an LDS member abstains from these four substances, he can truthfully answer Yes when asked during a temple worthiness interview if he obeys the Word of Wisdom. Being excessively fat may be considered an implicit Word of Wisdom violation, but it does not preclude temple access. We obey the counsel that is actually written, not the counsel we wish was written.

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