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Smoking Not Linked to Hearing Loss

Chicago Levels of cotinine, a substance created by the breakdown of nicotine in the body, does not appear to be linked to hearing loss, according to an article in the November issue of The Archives of Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

According to the article, hearing loss is one of the most common conditions among adults 65 years and older. Several studies have linked cardiovascular disease with hearing loss, and others have shown that hearing loss may be affected by cigarette smoking, a known cardiovascular disease risk factor.

David M. Nondahl, M.S., of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and colleagues investigated the relationship between levels of serum cotinine and hearing loss in 197 patients with new hearing loss and 394 patients without any hearing loss (aged 53-75 years) selected from the 2,800 participants in the five-year follow-up Epidemiology of Hearing Loss Study, 1998-2000. Serum cotinine levels were measured from blood samples obtained from the participants.

The researchers found no significant associations between serum cotinine levels and hearing loss. Among participants with hearing loss, 14 were current smokers, 96 were past smokers and 83 never smoked. Among participants with no hearing loss, 41 were current smokers, 183 were past smokers and 164 never smoked. Smoking information was not obtained for 10 participants.

These results were not consistent with a previous report, which found cross-sectional associations between prevalent hearing loss and current smoking and environmental tobacco smoke exposure in the home. Longer-term longitudinal studies of smoking and/or serum cotinine levels and the subsequent development of hearing loss may help clarify these associations.

(Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2004;130:1260-1264.)

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