19 December 2018

Smokers have an increased risk of hearing loss

Smoking is associated with an increased risk of hearing loss, a major Japanese study finds.

It is a well-known fact that smoking is not good for your health in many ways. Now a study has found that smokers are also at greater risk of developing a hearing loss.

A Japanese study among 50,195 Japanese employees has found that current smokers have a 1.6 times (60%) increased risk of high-frequency hearing loss and a 1.2 times (20%) increased risk of low-frequency hearing loss compared with those who have never smoked after adjusting for other factors including occupational noise.

The risk of both high- and low-frequency hearing loss increased with the number of cigarettes smoked per day, according to the study. The study also showed a decline in the risk of hearing loss after quitting smoking, even among those who quit less than 5 years before.

Smoking is an independent risk factor

"With a large sample size, long follow-up period and objective assessment of hearing loss, our study provides strong evidence that smoking is an independent risk factor of hearing loss," said the study's lead author Dr. Huanhuan Hu of Japan's National Center for Global Health and Medicine.

About the study

The study included 50,195 Japanese employees aged 20–64 years who did not have a hearing loss at the beginning of the study. The participants were followed for up to 8 years. Researchers analyzed data from annual health checkups, which included audio testing performed by a technician and a health-related lifestyle questionnaire completed by each participant. The researchers examined the effects of each participant’s smoking status (current, former and never smoked), the number of cigarettes smoked per day, and the duration of smoking cessation on the extent of hearing loss.

During the follow-up in the study, 3,532 individuals developed high-frequency hearing loss and 1,575 developed low-frequency hearing loss.

The study “Smoking, Smoking Cessation, and the Risk of Hearing Loss: Japan Epidemiology Collaboration on Occupational Health Study” was published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research (Oxford University Press).

Sources: medicalxpress.com and Nicotine & Tobacco Research

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