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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 May, 2005, 07:46 GMT 08:46 UK
Heavy smoking 'may affect memory'
Researchers claim that smoking is detrimental to memory
Prolonged heavy nicotine use has a negative effect on day-to-day memory, according to research.

Researchers from five universities asked smokers and non-smokers to rate their long-term memory, for example remembering to send birthday cards.

They found that smoking significantly impaired memory, with heavy smokers reporting the most errors.

The survey was carried out by teams from Newcastle, Wales, Northumbria, Westminster and Teesside universities.

The survey involved more than 700 people.

Researcher Dr Tom Heffernan, of the human cognitive neuroscience unit at Northumbria University, also tested everyday memory including remembering where people had put things.

'More problems'

The teams also took into consideration how much people smoked - a heavy smoker was classed as having more than 15 cigarettes a week and a light smoker between one and four cigarettes a week.

Dr Heffernan said: "The result of the study revealed that smokers reported more errors in their long-term memory than non-smokers with an additional difference between non-smokers and heavy smokers.

"There was also a significant detrimental effect of cigarette use on everyday memory function.

"For example a typical heavy smoker reported 22% more memory-related problems than a non smoker and around 12% more problems than those who smoked only relatively a small number of cigarettes.

"It is concluded that chronic, heavy smoking is associated with impairments in everyday memory, although the precise nature of the deficits are as yet unknown."

The research was carried out via an internet questionnaire and published in scientific journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Smoking 'is bad for your brain'
09 Dec 04 |  Health

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