Updated 11 July 2013

Quit smoking and boost your memory

Researchers have now discovered another good reason to kick the smoking habit - it may help improve your everyday memory.


In addition to the many known health benefits of quitting smoking, researchers have now discovered another good reason to kick the habit - it may help improve your everyday memory.

The team at Northumbria University in Newcastle, the United Kingdom, gave memory tests to 27 smokers, 18 former-smokers and 24 never-smokers. The test involved remembering to do assigned tasks at different locations on the university campus.

Smokers remembered only 59% of the tasks, compared with 74% for former-smokers and 81% for never-smokers.

"We already know that giving up smoking has huge health benefits for the body but this study also shows how stopping smoking can have . . . benefits for cognitive [brain] function, too," researcher Tom Heffernan, of the Collaboration for Drug and Alcohol Research Group at Northumbria, said.

He said this is the first study to examine the effect that quitting smoking has on memory.

Smoking and bad memory

"Given that there are millions of smokers it's important to understand the effects smoking has on everyday cognitive function - of which prospective memory is an excellent example," Heffernan said.

The study was released online in advance of publication in an upcoming print edition of the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about smoking, tobacco and health.

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