Vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia (VCID) include structural and functional blood vessel injuries linked to poor neurocognitive outcomes. Smoking might indirectly increase the likelihood of cognitive impairment by exacerbating vascular disease risks. Sex disparities in VCID have been reported, however, few studies have assessed the sex-specific relationships between smoking and memory performance and with contradictory results. We investigated the associations between sex, smoking, and cardiovascular disease with verbal learning and memory function. Using MindCrowd, an observational web-based cohort of ~ 70,000 people aged 18–85, we investigated whether sex modifies the relationship between smoking and cardiovascular disease with verbal memory performance. We found significant interactions in that smoking is associated with verbal learning performance more in women and cardiovascular disease more in men across a wide age range. These results suggest that smoking and cardiovascular disease may impact verbal learning and memory throughout adulthood differently for men and women.
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