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Smokers Twice As Likely To Get Active TB, Study Finds

“A study in Taiwan has found that smokers are twice as likely to develop active tuberculosis compared to people who have never smoked, prompting calls for policymakers to be tougher on smoking,” Reuters reports (Lyn, 8/24).

According to HealthDay News/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, researchers analyzed data from almost 17,000 people who took part in Taiwan’s 2001 National Health Interview Survey and “found that current smokers had a 2.73 times higher risk of active TB than nonsmokers, while the risk for people who had smoked at some point in their lives was 2.69 times greater. After adjusting for other potential factors, the researchers determined that current smokers were two times more likely to develop active TB than nonsmokers” (8/24). 

Current smokers were also found to have twice the risk of developing active TB in comparison to never-smokers after researchers adjusted for potential confounders, according to an American Thoracic Society release. In addition, “they also found that younger smokers were more likely than smokers older than 65 to develop active TB relative to their non-smoking counterparts,” the release notes (8/24). 

“Based on our analysis, 17 percent of incident TB cases in this population were attributable to smoking,” the authors wrote in a paper published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, according to Reuters.

Lead author Hsien-Ho Lin, a postdoctoral research fellow from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, wrote, “Based on results from ours and other studies, policymakers and public health personnel should consider addressing tobacco cessation as part of tuberculosis control” (8/24).