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40 million TB deaths due to smoking over next 40 years
Date:10/11/2011

Smoking could cause 18 million more cases of tuberculosis worldwide over the next 40 years and 40 million additional deaths.

That's the sobering scenario predicted by a new study led by the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) if smoking continues at current rates.

Smoking raises the risk of contracting TB, said lead author Sanjay Basu, MD, a resident physician at UCSF. Once smokers develop the disease, they are more likely to die from it, he said. Smoking has been linked to a higher individual risk of contracting tuberculosis and to death, but until now it has been unclear how these risks could affect population-wide TB rates.

The article is published online in the BMJ (British Medical Journal).

Nearly a fifth of the world's population smokes tobacco or uses other tobacco products, a rate expected to rise in many poor countries that lack restrictions on tobacco marketing. Most of the world's smokers live in countries with a high prevalence of TB.

"The tobacco industry has spent decades working to convince developing countries as well as funding agencies that they should not 'waste' their time on tobacco control, but rather focus on infectious diseases like tuberculosis at the same time that the multinational tobacco companies were expanding aggressively in those very countries,'' Basu said. "This paper shows that, because smoking and passive smoking facilitate the spread of TB and the transition from infection to active TB, reducing tobacco use is an important key to achieving the millennium development goals for TB.''

Those goals are to cut TB mortality in half from 1980 to 2015. To achieve the target, programs of TB control have focused on detecting and treating active TB cases to reduce their infectiousness, thus breaking the transmission chain.

The senior author of the paper is Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, UCSF pro
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Contact: Elizabeth Fernandez
elizabeth.fernandez@ucsf.edu
415-502-6397
University of California - San Francisco
Source:Eurekalert

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