Quit smoking and improve your memory

Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Quit smoking and improve your memory

It's not just your lungs, your wallet and your looks that are affected by smoking. New research shows that smoking can affect your memory too.

A new study by the Collaboration for Drug and Alcohol Research group at Northumbria University in England found that memory can improve once a person has given up smoking.

This was done by testing a group's ability to retrieve information after being taken on a tour of the university. The group consisted of 27 current smokers, 18 smokers who had recently quit and 24 who had never smoked. All were screened to have similar IQ, mood and alcohol consumption.

The tasks they were asked to perform showed that the prospective memory (of people, events and words) of non-smokers remembered 81 percent of the tasks while smokers remembered just 59 percent. However previous smokers performed at similar levels to the group that never smoked at 74 percent — suggesting the there is some improvement of cognitive function associated with quitting smoking.

This could be due to smoking impairing oxygen flow to the brain, shown as some smokers who need a coffee in the morning to get started, as caffeine helps speed up blood flow. So besides a smoking habit costing a small fortune, the sooner you give up the healthier and smarter you will be.

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The authors of the study Dr Tom Heffernan and Dr Terence O'Neill said, "it is important to understand not just the health consequences of smoking, but what effects it might have upon your everyday cognitive function — of which prospective memory is an excellent example."

"It is equally important to begin to understand what impact second-hand smoke has upon the health and everyday cognition in those who are exposed to other peoples' smoking, an area we are actively pursuing at this present time."

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