Secondhand Smoke Linked to Hearing Loss

A recent study in a peer-reviewed journal suggests that <"">secondhand smoke may be associated with hearing loss, said the Wall Street Journal.

Secondhand smoke contains over 4,000 substances, including in excess of 50 known or suspected carcinogens, and is linked to many diseases in adults and children, such as sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, middle ear disease, asthma, coronary heart disease, and lung and sinus cancers. Some 126 million nonsmokers—60 percent of all U.S. non-smokers—are exposed to secondhand smoke.

Earlier research linked first-hand smoke to hearing loss, but the auditory impact from secondhand smoke has never been previously reviewed, said the Journal. For this study, Tobacco Control utilized a nationally representative sampling of adults from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a cross-sectional dataset that provided information on nonsmoking people aged 20 through 69. The health survey data consisted of information for 3,307 adults and involved hearing and blood level testing of cotinine, said the Journal, which explained that cotinine is “a product of nicotine metabolism.”

About nine percent of nonsmoking participants experienced hearing loss in low to mid-frequencies, identified as from 500 Hz to 2,000 Hz; nonsmoking participants exposed to secondhand smoke experienced a 14-percent increased likelihood, versus other nonsmokers, of indications of hearing loss, said the Journal.

We previously wrote that secondhand smoke has been linked to some psychological problems and that these risks increase with increased exposure. It seems that people who smoke tend to be diagnosed with more psychological problems versus nonsmokers; however, new evidence points to the same psychological distress occurring in nonsmokers who inhale large amounts of secondhand smoke. Those findings supported the prevailing theory—based largely on animal studies—that sufficient amounts of nicotine can cause sadness and negative feelings.

Prior studies revealed that by interfering with immune responses, nicotine can alter moods and can interrupt “stress-hormone regulation and the transmission of dopamine, wrote USNews previously.

Another study published in January’s Psychosomatic Medicine, saw increased depression risks in nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke in a study looking at saliva and cotinine levels. In 1998, psychological distress was found to have negative impacts on nonsmokers exposed to varying amounts of secondhand smoke levels. In follow-up over a nearly six-year average, 41 people were admitted to psychiatric hospitals, said USNews.

We previously wrote that secondhand smoke has also been linked to chronic rhinosinusitis and that a prior study found that women routinely around smokers may face greater challenges when trying to conceive. Reuters Health pointed out that while previous studies indicate female smokers increase their risks of pregnancy complications, miscarriage, and infant health problems, this study, which involved over 4,800 women, is showing other risks.

Another study on which we wrote found that exposure to secondhand smoke puts women at a significantly higher risk for the development of peripheral artery disease (PAD), finding that women exposed to second-hand smoke either at home or in the workplace had a 67 percent increased risk of PAD compared to those with no exposure.

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