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Study Finds Link Between Smoking and Increased Risk of Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease that causes an estimated 2 million deaths each year. The majority of those deaths occur in developing countries, home to more than 900 million of the world's 1.1 billion smokers. //

In addition, about half of the world's people cook and heat their homes with coal and biomass fuels such as wood, animal dung and charcoal, which generate indoor air pollution. In a new study, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) undertook a systematic review and meta-analysis of epidemiologic data to quantitatively assess the association between smoking, passive smoking and indoor air pollution and TB. They found consistent evidence that smoking is associated with an increased risk of TB; they also found that passive smoking (secondhand smoke) and the burning of biomass fuels was associated with an increased TB risk.

The study appears online on January 16, 2007, in the open-access journal PLoS Medicine.

'The evidence suggests that, when compared to non-smokers, smokers have about double the risk of tuberculosis. The implication for global health is critical,' said Megan Murray, associate professor of epidemiology at HSPH. 'Since tobacco smoking has increased in developing countries where TB is prevalent, a considerable portion of the global burden of TB may be attributed to tobacco. Importantly, this also implies that smoking cessation might provide benefits for global TB control in addition to those for chronic diseases.'

The HSPH researchers, Hsienho Lin, graduate student, Majid Ezzati, associate professor of international health and Megan Murray, associate professor of epidemiology, reviewed studies from 1950 to early 2006 that explored the association between smoking, passive smoking and indoor air pollution and TB infection, disease and mortality. All the studies involved people with TB or at risk from TB. After initially identifying 1,397 papers for potential inclusio
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