Secondhand Smoke and Women's Cognitive Function in China

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Exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) is known to be harmful to health. However, the association between household SHS and cognitive function among middle-aged and older women in China is understudied. Lagged dependent variable regression was used to examine the association between household SHS exposure and the cognitive function of married women who had been exposed to SHS, using data from 2 waves of the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS, 2011-2013). Controlling for age, educational attainment, geographic residence, household expenditures, and chronic conditions (i.e., hypertension, diabetes, and depressive symptoms), the results indicated that longer SHS exposure was associated with a greater decline in memory over 2 years. After comparing differences across age groups, this pattern was significant for women aged 55-64 years. Furthermore, those who were illiterate, lived in rural areas, and reported depressive symptoms had a greater decline in memory. With evidence linking household SHS exposure with a higher risk of cognitive decline, effective education and public health intervention programs are urgently needed. Stronger tobacco control regulations and education about the dangers of household SHS are viable strategies to reduce the impending dementia epidemic in China.

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