The dangers of smoking are well established. But now a new and novel effect of the habit has been discovered. Smoking is associated with an increased risk of hearing loss, according to new research published by Oxford University Press, following a study of over 50,000 participants over 8 years.
The researchers analysed data from annual health checkups, which included audio testing performed by a technician and a health-related lifestyle questionnaire completed by each participant. They examined the effects of smoking status (current, former, and never smokers), the number of cigarettes smoked per day, and the duration of smoking cessation on the extent of hearing loss. Even after adjusting for factors including occupational noise exposure, researchers noted a 1.2 to 1.6 per cent increased risk of hearing loss among current smokers compared with never smokers.
While the association between smoking and high-frequency hearing loss was stronger than that of low-frequency hearing loss, the risk of both high- and low-frequency hearing loss increased with cigarette consumption. The increased risk of hearing loss decreased within 5 years of quitting smoking.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Huanhuan Hu of Japan’s National Centrr for Global Health and Medicine, said: ‘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.’