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Could Smoking Affect Your Memory?

August 14, 2014

The physically damaging side effects of smoking are frequently discussed and widely known about, however, does smoking affect your mind?


In two tests run on different age groups, it was found that smoking does in fact have a detrimental effect on your memory.


In one test, a group of seventy 18 – 25 year olds were given a tour Northumbria University campus. They were then asked to recall small details from the tour, such as information on posters etc.


It was found that smoker’s results were far lower than non smokers, on average remembering 59%, in comparison to 81% by those who had never smoked and 74% by those who had given up smoking.


In the second test, researchers from University College in London studied more than 5,000 men and 2,000 women beginning when participants were 56 years old, over a 10 year period, testing their memory, verbal skills and reasoning. 


It was found that men who smoked had greater decline in these mental functions than those who did not. 


Smoking appeared to have sped up the cognitive aging process in men and the male smokers results were similar to what would be expected in someone 10 years older.

Ex smokers, who had given up over 10 years before the test were found to have similar results to non smokers, where as the results of those who had given up within the 10 years before were not that different to those still smoking.


The same results were not found in the women, who participated in the test. It was noted that the reason for this may have been the reduced number of women or that less women in this age group smoke.


One reason that smoking may have these affects on the brain is that a smoker’s brain receives 33% less oxygen and nutrients than a non smoker. Another may be connected to the addictiveness of cigarettes as it has been noted that nicotine molecules latch onto the same brain receptors involved in attention, concentration and memory.

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