09/11/2012 06:04 pm ET

Secondhand Smoke May Affect Memory, Study Suggests

A small new study shows that secondhand smoke may have more health dangers beyond respiratory damage.

Researchers from Northumbria University found that secondhand smoke could have negative effects on memory, specifically prospective memory, according to the study in the journal Addiction. Prospective memory is what it takes to remember things you want or need to do in the future.

The researchers conducted their study on 27 young adults, between ages 18 and 30, who were regularly exposed to secondhand smoke, as well as 27 young adults who currently were smokers, and 29 young adults who didn't smoke and weren't regularly exposed to secondhand smoke.

The researchers had all the study participants take the Cambridge Prospective Memory Test to test their prospective memory -- both time-based and event-based. Sci-News reported that time-based memory is your ability to remember something after time has passed, while event-based memory is the ability to remember to do something later on.

They found that people who didn't smoke or have exposure to secondhand smoke did better at time-based tests than both the current smokers and those exposed to secondhand smoke (even though those exposed to secondhand smoke still did better at this test than the current smokers).

Meanwhile, the people who didn't smoke and weren't exposed to secondhand smoke did better on the event-based tests than the current smokers, but didn't do any better than those exposed to secondhand smoke.

This isn't the first time secondhand smoke has been linked with memory and brain problems. Last year, a study from Harvard researchers showed a link between secondhand smoke exposure in children and an increased risk of ADHD, learning disorders and behavior disorders, HuffPost's Catherine Pearson reported.

Plus, a study last year also from Northumbria University researchers in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence showed that stopping smoking was linked with improved memory, HealthDay reported.