A report, a first of its kind, that assessed all deaths related to tobacco showed that second-hand smoke sickens millions and kills more than 600,000 people worldwide each year, including more than 165,000 children under 5.
The report from the World Health Organization on 192 countries appeared in The Lancet and found more than half of the deaths are from heart disease, followed by deaths from cancer, lung infections, asthma and other ailments. It says that more than two thirds of the children’s deaths are in Africa and Asia, where they have less access to important public health services, such as vaccines, and less advanced medical care. American Cancer Society's Tom Glynn said, “These statistics are sad data.”
July 18, 2011 — Secondhand smoke (SHS) may result in a nearly 2-fold increase in sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) in adolescents, suggesting that monitoring for early hearing loss with periodic audiologic testing may be required in this population.
Anil K. Lalwani, MD, and colleagues with the New York University Langone Medical Center, in New York, NY, reported the findings in the July issue of the Archives of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery.
According to the researchers, recurrent acute otitis media is more common in the nearly 60% of children exposed to SHS in the United States. They suggest that increased risk for otitis media with SHS may be caused by several factors including "suppression or modulation of the immune system, enhancement of bacterial adherence factors, the consequence of exposure to toxins within SHS, and impairment of the respiratory mucociliary apparatus, leading to Eustachian tube dysfunction."
In the current study, Dr. Lalwani and colleagues evaluated cross-sectional data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2005-2006), which included information on 1533 participants 12 to 19 years old who underwent audiometric testing and serum cotinine measurements and who were nonsmokers.
The investigators defined SNHL as an average pure-tone level greater than 15 dB for 0.5, 1, and 2 kHz (low frequency) and 3, 4, 6, and 8 kHz (high frequency).
Exposure to SHS, as determined by serum cotinine levels, was associated with elevated pure-tone hearing thresholds at 2, 3, and 4 kHz and a higher rate of unilateral low-frequency SNHL (11.82% vs 7.53%; P = .04). In addition, multivariate logistic regression analyses indicated a 1.83-fold increased risk for unilateral low-frequency SNHL (95% confidence interval, 1.08 - 3.41).
According to the researchers, there was a direct relationship between the prevalence of SNHL and SHS exposure. Moreover, nearly 82% of adolescents with SNHL did not know that they had hearing difficulties.
"This study demonstrates, to our knowledge for the first time, a relationship between tobacco smoke exposure and hearing loss among adolescents in the United States," they conclude. "These findings may have profound implications in light of the high exposure rates among adolescents in the United States."
This study was supported, in part, by grants from the Zausmer Foundation and the National Institutes of Health/National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities. The study authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.
Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2011;137:655-662.
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