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Cessation reduces impact of smoking on hearing loss in women

08 Oct 2020

While cigarette smoking increases the likelihood of hearing loss among women, this risk may diminish over time after quitting, a recent study has found.

The researchers conducted a prospective study on 81,505 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study II. At study entry in 1991, 66.5 percent were never smokers, 22.4 percent were past smokers, and 11.1 percent were current smokers.  The primary outcome was self-reported moderate or worse hearing loss, assessed by the final follow-up in 2013.

Over 1,533,214 person-years of follow-up, 2,760 incident cases of hearing loss were documented. Smoking emerged as a significant risk factor, and its effect varied according to smoking intensity.

For example, among past smokers, those who had smoked for ≥20 pack-years (adjusted relative risk [RR], 1.30, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.09–1.55) were at greater risk of hearing loss than counterparts who had smoked only 10–19 (adjusted RR, 1.32, 95 percent CI, 1.16–1.50) and <10 (adjusted RR, 1.10, 95 percent CI, 0.98–1.23) pack-years. The trend was statistically significant (p<0.001).

A similar pattern was reported for current smokers (ptrend=0.02), though the magnitude of the risk estimates were lower.

Notably, signals for the moderating effect of smoking cessation were observed, such that the risk of hearing loss in women decreased with increasing time since quitting, but this trend was of borderline significance (p=0.06).

“Cigarette smoking is a well-established risk factor for many adverse health outcomes, and these findings contribute to the body of evidence that supports the benefits of quitting smoking,” the researchers said.

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