Secondhand Smoke Tied to Hearing Loss Risk

Mid-/low-frequencies affected; former smokers also at risk of high-frequency loss

FRIDAY, Nov. 19 (HealthDay News) -- In addition to the known increased risk of hearing loss associated with smoking, it appears that exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) may pose a similar risk, according to research published online Nov. 15 in Tobacco Control.

David A. Fabry, Ph.D., of Starkey Laboratories in Eden Prairie, Minn., and colleagues used data from 3,307 nonsmoking participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data set, aged 20 to 69 years. Participants were included in the analysis if they had completed audiometric testing; had a valid serum cotinine value; and had complete smoking, medical, and noise exposure histories.

There researchers noted a significantly increased risk of hearing loss for low-/mid-frequencies associated with SHS exposure for never smokers (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.14) and for former smokers (aOR, 1.30). High-frequency hearing loss was also associated with SHS for former smokers, after controlling for potential confounders (aOR, 1.40).

"If this finding is independently confirmed by other researchers, then hearing loss can be added to the growing list of health consequences associated with exposure to SHS," the authors write.

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