Inhaling second-hand smoke may damage memory

Inhaling second-hand smoke may damage memory

When the tobacco in a cigarette, cigar or pipe burns, a combination of sidestream and mainstream smoke – or secondhand smoke (SHS) – is produced. According to the American Cancer Society, exposure to SHS in children and adults who do not smoke can lead to disease and even death.

While most nonsmokers are no doubt aware of these risks, they may not realize that breathing in SHS could also be affecting their cognitive abilities, especially their memory. Researchers from Northumbria University recently found evidence to back up this claim in a study that appears in the journal "Addiction."

Over the course of their study, researchers compared a sample of current smokers to one group that was regularly exposed to SHS, as well as a group that was not. The members of each group were subjected to memory tests that were time- and event-based. When compared to nonsmokers who rarely deal with SHS, nonsmokers who were around this smoke forgot about 20 percent more on their memory assessments.

Based on these findings, nonsmokers who find themselves inhaling SHS more often than they would like may want to take an IQ test to see if it has affected their brain in any way.

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