Not only can smoking lead to lung cancer and a multitude of other illnesses, but it can also be a factor in causing hearing loss.

Smokers are 1.69 times as likely to suffer hearing loss as nonsmokers. Non smokers who live with smokers are also more likely to suffer hearing problems in later life, new research has found.

Researchers based their findings on a study of 3,753 adults aged between 48 and 92 living in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, 46 per cent of whom had a mild or greater hearing loss. Over 45 per cent were nonsmokers, 39 per cent were ex smokers and 14 per cent smokers.

Hearing loss is a major problem, affecting up to a third of the adult population. Several earlier and smaller studies had already suggested a link between smoking and hearing loss, questioning the belief that it was a natural consequence of age.

Although the researchers, based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, were unsure about the reasons why smoking should affect hearing, they surmise that it may harm the antioxidative mechanisms of the body or the circulation to the hearing system (JAMA, 1998; 279: 1715-19).

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Written by What Doctors Don't Tell You

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