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Smoking is associated with increased risk of hearing loss (2018-03-16)

Smoking is associated with increased risk of hearing loss especially at the high frequency and the risk increases with each additional cigarette people smoke, a Japanese study led by Huanhuan Hu of the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention at the National Center for Global Health and Medicine in Tokyo suggests.

Quitting smoking virtually eliminates the excess risk of hearing loss, even among quitters with short duration of cessation.

Researchers examined data on 50,195 Japanese workers, ages 20 to 64, who didnít have hearing loss.

At the start of the study about 19,000 of the participants were current smokers, about 9,800 were former smokers and 21,000 had never smoked.

Current smokers were more likely to be overweight or obese, have chronic health problems like high blood pressure and diabetes, and work in jobs with higher levels of occupational noise.

Pure-tone audiometric testing was performed annually to identify hearing loss at 1 and 4 kHz and after a maximum follow-up of eight years, more than 5,100 people developed hearing loss: 3532 individuals developed high-frequency hearing loss, and 1575 developed low-frequency hearing loss.

Compared to nonsmokers, people who currently smoked up to 10 cigarettes a day were 40 percent more likely to develop high frequency hearing loss that makes it hard to understand speech in noisy environments and 10 percent more likely to develop low frequency hearing loss that makes difficult to detect deep voices.

When they went through 11 to 20 cigarettes a day, they were 60 percent more likely to develop high-frequency hearing loss and 20 percent more likely to develop low frequency hearing loss.

With more than 20 cigarettes a day, people were 70 percent more likely to develop high frequency hearing loss and 40 percent more likely to develop low frequency hearing loss.

These results suggest that smoking may be a causal factor for hearing loss, although further research would be required to confirm this: while the study wasnít a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how smoking might cause hearing loss, itís possible that nicotine exposure may damage the ears, lead study author Huanhuan Hu said.

For more information
Smoking, Smoking Cessation, and the Risk of Hearing Loss: Japan Epidemiology Collaboration on Occupational Health Study
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