Smoking can negatively affect your lungs, heart and even lead to cancer. Doctors now say it can also impair your hearing, according to a new report.
Researchers from medical institutions in Japan recently conducted a study, published in the Nicotine and Tobacco Research journal, to determine if smoking cigarettes is associated with hearing loss.
To do so, they observed more than 50,000 people, aged 20 to 64, who didn’t have hearing loss at the start of the study. Scientists assessed the participants’ annual health check-ups, which included a hearing test and information about their lifestyle habits, for eight years. They examined the effects of smoking for current and former smokers as well as the number of cigarettes smoked per day and the duration of smoking.
After analyzing the results, they found that hearing loss was higher for smokers, compared to nonsmokers.
People who currently smoked were 60 percent more likely to develop high-frequency hearing loss, which makes it difficult to understand speech in noisy environments. Smokers were also 20 percent more likely to develop low-frequency hearing loss, which makes it challenging to hear deep voices.
"With a large sample size, long follow-up period, and objective assessment of hearing loss, our study provides strong evidence that smoking is an independent risk factor of hearing loss," coauthor Huanhuan Hu said in a statement.
Researchers also said chances increased with the number of cigarettes smoked a day and that hearing loss risks declined within five years for those who quit.
While they didn’t note why smoking is linked to hearing loss, they said they hope to continue their investigations to “emphasize the need for tobacco control to prevent or delay the development of hearing loss.”