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Smoke Gets In Your Ears?

New research from Britain has tied smoking to hearing loss. If you smoke, your odds of hearing loss are 15 percent higher than that of nonsmokers, the study found. And the researchers came up with an even bigger surprise: if you’re exposed to smoking, your risk of hearing loss is 28 percent higher than non-smokers.

A team from the University of Manchester looked at nearly 165,000 adults in the UK age 40 to 69 who took hearing tests when they joined a national project to improve health. “We found the more packets you smoke per week and the longer you smoke, the greater the risk you will damage your hearing,” said Piers Dawes, Ph.D. of the University of Manchester’s Centre for Human Communication and Deafness. The cause of the connection between hearing loss and smoking isn’t clear, Dr. Dawes said, adding that “we are not sure if toxins in tobacco smoke affect hearing directly, or whether smoking-related cardiovascular disease causes microvascular changes that impact on hearing or both.”

The increased risk among passive smokers -- higher than that for smokers -- could be the result of the study design. Smokers were compared to both complete non-smokers and passive non-smokers, but passive smokers were only compared to complete non-smokers, the researchers said.

Piers Dawes et al, “Cigarette Smoking, Passive Smoking, Alcohol Consumption, and Hearing Loss”, Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology, 2014; DOI: 10.1007/s10162-014-0461-0

What is Your Greatest Exposure to Tobacco Smoke? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed third-hand smoke and it's effects on health: Is Third-Hand Smoke a Threat? Check out the article and let us know what you think is your greatest risk of tobacco smoke exposure.

Big News About Smoking and Heart Attacks

Rates of heart attack (fatal or not) for smokers who quit are about the same as those for people who never smokedFormer smokers may have no more reason to fear heart attacks than people who have never smoked, but the habit is likely to have a lasting effect on heart health. That surprising conclusion comes from a study that used medical imaging to evaluate the coronary arteries of smokers and former smokers. The researchers, from New York-Presbyterian Hospital and the Weill Cornell Medical College, reported that after two years of follow up, the rates of heart attack (fatal or not) for smokers who quit are about the same as those for people who never smoked. This seemed to hold true even when former smokers exhibited as much disease in their coronary arteries as current smokers. However, the study also found that giving up smoking doesn’t change the amount of disease smoking causes in the coronary arteries. The research team reported the findings at the European Society of Cardiology meeting in Amsterdam early this month. The investigators examined 13,372 patients from six countries in Europe, North America, and East Asia. Of those patients, 2,853 were active smokers, 3,174 were former smokers and 7,344 never smoked. The investigators found blockages of 50 percent or more in one or two major coronary arteries among the smokers and former smokers. These individuals also had twice the probability of developing severe blockages in all three major coronary arteries.

James Min et al "Coronary atherosclerosis and major adverse cardiovascular risk among never, past and current smokers undergoing coronary CT angiography: Results from 13,372 patients from the CONFIRM registry" European Society of Cardiology, 2013