Print 15 comment(s) - last by Qapa.. on Sep 17 at 8:23 AM

  (Source: Campus Drive)
Those exposed forget 1 out of every 5 things their unexposed peers would recall

Northumbria University, located near Newcastle in the Northeastern coast of England, has produced a cautionary study warning that second-hand smoke may lead to memory loss.

Published [abstract] in the peer-reviewed journal Addiction, the work by Psychologists Drs. Tom Heffernan and Terence O'Neil compared 27 second-hand smokers (SHS), 27 current-smokers (CS), and 29 non-second-hand smokers (non-SHS).  Participants were subjected to the Cambridge Prospective Memory Test (CAMPROMPT), a common memory test.  The researchers took into consideration age, other drug use, mood, and IQ, in an effort to narrow the correlation down to smoke inhalation or lack thereof.

Current smokers fared the worst on the test, recalling approximately 25-30 percent less than their non-exposed peers in time- and event-based tasks.  But somewhat more surprising, the researchers also observed a time-based memory gap in those exposed to second-hand smoke.  They recalled over 15 percent less than their non-exposed peers.  Interestingly, memory was not affected in event-based tasks.

The authors conclude:

In a sample of never-smoked  adults,  exposure  to SHS is associated  with increased  time- based, but  not  event-based  objective  PM  impairments  when  compared  with  a  Non-SHS group, but not to the same level of impairments as observed in current smokers. Given the concerns raised by the World Health Organisation in relation to the global impact of current smoking and exposure to SHS upon a range of health measures and other indices this is a topic that is of major public interest. Despite this, there is little in the way of systematic study on what impact exposure SHS has on everyday remembering, with the findings presented here representing the first in this line of research.

At an applied level, the findings from the present study  could  be  incorporated  into  campaigns  that  alert  people  to  the  dangers  of exposure  to SHS beyond  health  indices  and highlighting  the  everyday  cognitive consequences of such exposure. Clearly the findings from this exploratory study could be integrated into such initiatives.

The second-hand smokers in the study were exposed to, on average, 25 hours a week (3.6 hr. per day) for 4 and 1/2 years.

As with other studies on drug abuse, it's important to note that the observed phenomena was merely a correlation -- how exactly smoke affects the brain is very poorly understood, beyond basic reward circuitry.

There are many compelling questions raised by the study.  The biggest is how exactly the memory impairment works on a neurological level.  Another major question is whether so-called "third-hand" smoke -- smoke absorbed by a building occupied by a heavy smoker -- could have a similar, but smaller affect.  Some studies have suggested that this may be the case with other smoking-related health issues.

Alcohol has been linked to similar memory impairment (though recent studies rebuke the hypothesis of brain cell death).  However, there is no second-hand analogy with alcohol.  On the other hand marijuana has been linked to short-term memory loss.  Given the poor understanding of second-hand (tobacco) smoke and memory loss with tobacco (the NU paper claims to be the first study on the topic), the impact of second-hand marijuana smoke is likely poorly misunderstood.

Smoking has been linked to many adverse health affects. [Image Source: Reuters / Alexandra Beier]

In addition to memory affects, previous studies have shown a link between tobacco smoking and brain damage.  Another study indicated smoking reduced brain activity in teens.  Tobacco has also been linked to a variety of cancers, including testicular cancer.  Habitually smoking marijuana also showed a clear correlation with certain kinds of testicular cancer.

It's clear that you should be careful what you inhale -- there is compelling evidence that it could damage your memory or cause other adverse affects, though researchers in some cases aren't sure quite how that process occurs.

Sources: Addiction, Northumbria University

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Nothing like hearing that 40 years too late
By Mitch101 on 9/12/2012 5:20:37 PM , Rating: 2
The thing is if I forgot something its not like I would know I did. In my 30's people were telling me stories of things I did that even I dont remember maybe its from the smoke or something I did in my 20's.

RE: Nothing like hearing that 40 years too late
By Mitch101 on 9/12/2012 5:24:28 PM , Rating: 2
I will also point out the massive test group that was used for this conclusion.

27 second-hand smokers (SHS)
27 current-smokers (CS)
29 non-second-hand smokers

Did the test conclude that second hand smokers tend to reply to their own posts. Maybe I need a grant for more research?

RE: Nothing like hearing that 40 years too late
By nocturne_81 on 9/12/2012 6:36:03 PM , Rating: 2
Ridiculously small sample group, no substantial new info..

I can't understand at all why this is news-worthy.. Moreover, to think that taking a plant, rolling it up in paper, then burning and inhaling it is not bad for you.. well, I don't care what age you were born in, that's just stupid (I say as I choke down my Camel). Still, exactly how much secondhand smoke can you come into contact to now that any civilized state has outlawed smoking indoors..? Elsewhere, you still have every right to refuse patronizing a business that doesn't use the massive air cleaners that have been standard in any decent bar for the last 30 years.

RE: Nothing like hearing that 40 years too late
By wordsworm on 9/12/2012 7:28:19 PM , Rating: 2
Come to Vancouver, where it's illegal to smoke in bars. I can actually go to a bar now for a few hours without feeling like I've just smoked a pack of cigs.

RE: Nothing like hearing that 40 years too late
By Reclaimer77 on 9/12/12, Rating: -1
By Complinitor on 9/13/2012 6:49:20 AM , Rating: 4
Can't smoke in bars in Virginia and we're one of the top tobacco states in the country.

By woody1 on 9/13/2012 5:56:10 PM , Rating: 2
Bars were invented for smoking? That's news to me. I like to drink, I like bars and I hate to breathe smoke. I don't think I'm the only one. With the number of smokers declining, it makes good sense from both a business and a health point of view to ban smoking in bars. The ones I go to frequently have a wait to get in in spite of the smoking ban.

By Qapa on 9/17/2012 8:23:35 AM , Rating: 2
bars were invented for smoking?? wow... always learning. thanks :P

=> Now go ahead and counter with the typical overused "why should someone endanger my health" argument, as if someone forced you to walk into bars before.

There is nothing wrong with keeping with 1 argument if it is correct.

But if you want an original spin on it... how about if I said I'd prefer smokers to shoot heroine instead, because that (action) does not impact on other people?

Eat them, drink them, shoot them up your veins... none of those has direct negative impacts on other people, so any of those are preferred! :) (them=drugs)

By mindless1 on 9/13/2012 1:47:57 PM , Rating: 2
While I agree about the ridiculously small sample group, I can't agree with the thought that people aren't likely to come in contact with it.

Most civilized (states) have not outlawed smoking indoors in the one place society (on average) spends more time than anywhere else - at home. While you may be able to refuse patronage at a business that doesn't keep the air clean, it gets a bit more difficult or lossy to refuse living with your parents or divorcing a spouse who won't smoke outside.

What's a "decent" bar though? I go to drink not to be impressed with modernization. A hole in the wall with a few friends is better than some massive superplex tailored to 22 year olds.

By Solandri on 9/13/2012 4:41:38 AM , Rating: 3
Margin of error with a sample size of 27 is +/- 19% for a 95% confidence interval. +/- 18% for a sample size of 29.

So the difference they measured between smokers and non-smokers is statistically significant (less than 5% chance of it happening by pure chance). But the difference they saw between non-smokers and second-hand smokers is not statistically significant (greater than 5% chance it happened by pure chance).

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki