Second-Hand Smoke Can Be Damaging To Memory
Although many discussions are focused on secondhand smoke and its relation to lung cancer risk, it is important to understand that secondhand smoke, as a “known human carcinogen,” is probably responsible for many other problems besides lung cancer.
For example, according to the American Cancer Society, each year in the United States it causes:
- An estimated 46,000 deaths from heart disease among non-smokers who live with smokers
- 50,000-300,000 lung infections in children under 18 months, resulting in 7,500 to 15,000 hospitalizations
- More than 75,000 middle ear infections in children
- Increased risk of low birth-weight babies among pregnant women exposed to it
Recently, a new study came out that revealed another possible side effect of extensive second-hand smoke: memory loss. An excerpt from the article is below.
The new study, published online in the journal Addiction, explores the relationship between exposure to other people’s smoke and everyday memory problems.
The scientists 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.
Those 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).
The team 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,” said lead author Dr Tom Heffernan of the Northumbria University’s Collaboration for Drug and Alcohol Research Group.
“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 concluded.
According to the American Cancer Society, there are approximately 3,400 deaths in the United States each year from non-smoking adults. Additionally, there is an increase in both the number and the severity of asthma attacks in anywhere from 200,000 to 1 million children due to harmful effects of secondhand smoke exposure.
These very real side effects are only a couple of examples of how secondhand smoke can impact the lives of those who encounter it.
Though smoking tobacco still remains the number one risk factor for lung cancer, secondhand smoke is another proven risk factor. To calculate your own personal risk for lung cancer, or the risk of a loved one, try this Free Lung Cancer Risk Assessment.
To learn more about Oncimmune’s EarlyCDT-Lung, the blood test to aid in the early detection of lung cancer, please visit www.HelloHaveYouHeard.com. The test is covered by Medicare Part B and private insurance companies (Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Aetna, etc.). Since its commercial release in 2009, it has helped find numerous lung cancer cases, and is currently being used by several hundred doctors across the United States.