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Passive smoking causes damage to memory: Study

London: Non-smokers who live with or spend time with people who smoke are damaging their memory, a new study has found.

The study by Northumbria University is a first of its kind to explore the relationship between exposure to other people`s smoke and everyday memory problems.

Dr Tom Heffernan and Dr Terence O`Neil, researchers at the Collaboration for Drug and Alcohol Research Group at Northumbria University, compared a group of current smokers with two groups of non-smokers, those who were regularly exposed to second-hand smoke and those who were not.

Others 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 four and a half years.

The three groups were tested on time-based memory (remembering to carry out an activity after some time) and event-based memory (which refers to memory for future intentions and activities).

Researchers found that the non-smokers who had been exposed to second-hand smoke forgot almost 20 per cent more in the memory tests than those non-smokers not exposed.

However, both groups out-performed the current smokers who forgot 30 per cent 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," Heffernan said in a statement.

"Our findings suggest that the deficits associated with second-hand smoke exposure extend to everyday cognitive function. We hope our work will stimulate further research in the field in order to gain a better understanding of the links between exposure to second-hand smoke, health problems and everyday cognitive function," he said.


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