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UK Study Connects Smoking and Hearing Loss

The Royal National Institute for the Deaf (RNID), the prestigious UK advocacy group for the hard of hearing and deaf populations, released the results of a study funded by the organization.

One of the largest studies of its kind examined a broad spectrum of the population - smokers and non-smokers - to determine the effects of tobacco use on hearing loss. In its release to the media, the RNID emphatically stated that, "Smoking is a risk factor in the development of age-related hearing loss, one of the largest ever studies into risk factors for hearing loss has found."

The study also revealed that being overweight also contributes to adult-onset hearing loss. The numbers are actually quite startling and sobering.

RNID Study Relates Hearing Loss to Cigarettes and Excess Weight

The RNID study, released in June, 2008, found a strong correlation between the use of tobacco and hearing loss. More surprising? The more you smoke, the less you hear as you grow older.

Here are some facts drawn from the study:

  •  People who smoke for one year or more had worse hearing than those who never smoked.
  •  The more you smoke (number of years X packs per day) the worse you hear, i.e., the effects are cumulative. That's  a good reason to quit right there.
  •  The study revealed a correlation between being overweight and hearing loss.
  •  Hearing loss due to age can be minimized by eliminating tobacco and eating a healthier, low-calorie diet.

Dr. Mark Downs, RNID's Executive Director of Technology and Enterprise stated, "This exciting new research shows that you're not just harming your heart and lungs when you have a cigarette, you could be putting your hearing at risk, too."

Dr. Downs went on to point out a key factor in undertaking the study in the first place. "With an ageing population, age-related hearing loss (nerve deafness) is something that we need to take seriously. Losing your hearing in later life can make it harder to maintain contact with friends and families and lead to isolation and/or depression - so making small concessions now could have an enormous effect long term."

Solutions? You already know them. The RNID spokesperson said, "Making sure you keep your weight down and generally leading a healthy lifestyle is not only good for your heart, but also good for your ears."

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