Smoking cessation gradually lowers risk of hearing loss in women
USA: Smoking is known to be associated with a higher risk of hearing loss. Now, a recent study published in The American Journal of Medicine has found that higher risk may diminish over time after quitting.
Hearing loss or hearing impairment is caused by dysfunction of the inner ear. It may occur in one or both ears.
Previous studies have shown a higher risk of hearing loss among cigarette smokers but there is a dearth of data on whether this risk is influenced by smoking cessation. Brian M. Lin, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass, and colleagues prospectively investigated the association between smoking, smoking cessation and risk of hearing loss.
The study involved 81,505 women in the Nurses' Health Study II (1991-2013). Smoking and hearing status information was obtained from validated biennial questionnaires. Cox proportional hazards regression was used to estimate multivariable-adjusted relative risks (MVRR, 95% confidence interval).
Key findings of the study include:
- During 1,533,214 person-years of follow-up, 2760 cases of hearing loss were reported.
- Smoking was associated with higher risk of hearing loss and the risk tended to be higher with greater number of pack-years smoked.
- Compared with never smokers, the MVRR (95% confidence interval) among past smokers with 20+ pack-years of smoking was 1.30 (1.09-1.55) and 1.21 (1.02-1.43) for current smokers.
- The magnitude of elevated risk diminished with greater time since smoking cessation.
- Compared with never smokers, the MVRR among smokers who quit <5 years prior was 1.43 (1.17-1.75); 5-9 years prior was 1.27 (1.03-1.56); 10-14 years prior was 1.17 (0.96-1.41); and plateaued thereafter.
- Additional adjustment for pack-years smoking attenuated the results.
"The higher risk of hearing loss associated with smoking may diminish over time after quitting," concluded the authors.
The study, "Cigarette Smoking, Smoking Cessation, and Risk of Hearing Loss in Women," is published in The American Journal of Medicine.