It’s widely known that drinking too much alcohol and smoking on a regular basis isn’t exactly going to make you the healthiest version of yourself. But scientists now think these habits could make your brain age faster too.

Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers identified the relative brain age of more than 17,000 people whose data is stored in the UK Biobank (relative brain age is your brain age compared with the average brain age of people the same age, based on measurements taken via MRI scanning).

What they found was those who smoked on most days or every day had a higher relative brain age than others who didn’t smoke or who smoked less frequently. They also found that the  people who smoked a pack a day had brains that aged by an additional 0.o3 years every year compared with the non-smokers and less frequent smokers.

As far as alcohol was concerned, people who drank on most days also had a higher relative brain age than those who were teetotal or who rarely drank. And each extra gram of alcohol they drank a day was associated with 0.02 years of increased relative brain age.

These rates may not exactly be huge, but they do suggest smoking and drinking may be involved in making your brain old before its time – though the researchers add other environmental and genetic factors may be associated with brain age too.

Photo by Tatiana Rodriguez on Unsplash