Non-smokers regularly exposed to second-hand smoke are 'at risk of damaging their memory'Scientists found non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke forgot almost 20% more than non-smokers who were not exposedBoth groups out-performed smokers who forgot 30% more than those who were not exposed to second-hand smoke
14:51 GMT, 13 September 2012
We all know cigarettes are bad for our health, but researchers now claim that non-smokers who are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke are at risk of damaging their memory.
The study, by scientists at the Northumbria University, is the first to explore the relationship between second-hand smoke and memory problems.
The researchers compared a group of current smokers with two groups of non-smokers – those regularly exposed to second-hand smoke and those who were not.
They found that non-smokers
exposed to second-hand smoke forgot almost 20 per cent more than the
non-smokers who were not exposed.
Turn-off: Non-smokers who are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke are at risk of damaging their memory, according to a study
Those exposed to second-hand smoke either lived with smokers or spent time with smokers, for example in a designated ‘smoking area’.
They reported to being exposed to second-hand smoke for an average of 25 hours a week for an average of four and a half years.
The three groups were tested on types of memory with the first being time-based memory – remembering to carry out an activity after some time.
The second was event-based memory, which refers to memory for future intentions and activities.
The results found the non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke forgot almost 20 per cent more than the non-smokers who were not exposed.
'Our findings suggest the deficits associated with second-hand smoke exposure extend to everyday cognitive function'
However, both groups out-performed the current smokers who forgot 30 per cent more than those who were not exposed to second-hand smoking.
Co-lead researcher Dr Tom Heffernan said: ‘Our findings suggest the deficits associated with second-hand smoke exposure extend to everyday cognitive function.
‘We hope our work will stimulate further research to help us gain a better understanding of the health links relating to second-hand smoke exposure.’
Dr Heffernan and the study’s co-leader Dr Terence O’Neil are both researchers at the Collaboration for Drug and Alcohol Research Group at the university in Newcastle, Tyne and Wear.
The findings were published in the latest online edition of the journal Addiction.