shutterstock_154685816Current smokers have 15.1% higher odds of getting hearing loss than non-smokers, according to a new study by The University of Manchester, UK. ?Passive smoking also increased the likelihood of hearing loss by 28%. Ex-smokers had a slightly reduced risk of going deaf, which may be because once they quit they adopt a more healthy life style overall.

Researchers looked at 164,770 UK adults aged 40 to 69 years of age who took hearing tests between 2007 and 2010 when they joined UK Biobank, a national project to improve health. Piers Dawes, PhD, from the Centre for Human Communication and Deafness at The University of Manchester who led the research, says, “Given around 20% of the UK population smoke and up to 60% in some countries, smoking may represent a significant cause of hearing loss worldwide.?We found the more packets you smoke per week and the longer you smoke, the greater the risk you will damage your hearing.”

The link between smoking and hearing loss is still unclear but many smokers also often had heart disease. “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,” adds Dr Dawes.

The increased risk among passive smokers, which is higher than that for smokers, could be because smokers were compared to both complete non-smokers and passive non-smokers but passive smokers were only compared to non-smokers.? This means the association with smoking and hearing loss maybe under estimated, the researchers say.

“Hearing loss is often viewed as an inevitable consequence of aging, but as the research published today shows, this may not always be the case,” explained Ralph Holme, PhD, head of biomedical research at Action on Hearing Loss in the UK, which helped support the study. “Giving up smoking and protecting your ears from loud noise are two practical steps people can take today to prevent hearing loss later in life.”

The study was funded by Action on Hearing Loss, along with the Medical Research Council and the National Institute for Health Research. The paper entitled “Cigarette smoking, passive smoking, alcohol consumption and hearing loss” is published in the Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology.

Source: University of Manchester