Second-Hand Smoke Damages Memory, Study Shows
Nonsmokers exposed to smoking had lower memory test scores (Sept. 12)
Nonsmokers who live with or spend time with smokers are damaging their memory, according to a September 12 announcement from Northumbria University in the U.K.
The report, published online in Addiction, is the first study to explore the relationship between exposure to other people’s smoke and everyday memory problems.
Researchers in the Collaboration for Drug and Alcohol Research Group at Northumbria University compared a group of current smokers with two groups of nonsmokers — those who were regularly exposed to second-hand smoke and those who were not.
Those exposed to second-hand smoke either lived with smokers or spent time with smokers — for example, in a designated “smoking area” — and reported being exposed to second-hand smoke for an average of 25 hours a week for an average of 4.5 years.
The three groups were tested on time-based memory (remembering to carry out an activity after some time) and event-based memory (memory for future intentions and activities).
The researchers found that nonsmokers who had been exposed to second-hand smoke forgot almost 20% more in the memory tests than did nonsmokers who were not exposed. However, both groups out-performed current smokers, who forgot 30% more than those who were not exposed to second-hand smoking.
“According to recent reports by the World Health Organization, exposure to second-hand smoke can have serious consequences on the health of people who have never smoked themselves, but who are exposed to other people’s tobacco smoke,” said Dr. Tom Hefernan. “Our findings suggest that the deficits associated with second-hand smoke exposure extend to everyday cognitive function.”
For more information, visit the Northumbria University Web site.