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Deafness link to smoking and obesity

Smokers and the overweight are risking losing their hearing, according to new research.

A study of people from across Europe found a link between how much somebody smokes, and for how long, and their chances of suffering deafness.

A total of 4,083 men and women between the ages of 53 and 67 were recruited from seven European countries, including Germany, Belgium and the UK.

Exposure to noise in the workplace was by far the "most significant and consistently replicated risk factor," the researchers said. But they also found a "significant association" between how much somebody smoked and for how many years (known as pack years) and high-frequency hearing loss.

Those with a higher body mass index (BMI) were also more likely to suffer hearing loss, the study found.

Erik Fransen, doctor of biomedical sciences at the University of Antwerp in Belgium said the association was linear - with higher BMIs and more smoking leading to greater hearing loss.

Dr Fransen said experts believe that smoking and higher BMIs decrease the flow of oxygen to the ear, which can cause damage.

"Blood flow is absolutely crucial for good functioning of the inner ear. Anything that disrupts the blood circulation will affect the hearing, that's the hypothesis."

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What should be done in late of this research? Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"Madame Jeanne Claument is the oldest person who ever lived (121). She may have suffered some side-ffects for her like of strong French cigarettes (and red wine and port). I think the NHS should stop spending money on TV adverts for their quit programme and spend the money to stop NHS hospitals being a danger to public health. You're more likely to be damaged by an NHS hospital (1 in 300) than smoking (1 in 80,000 chance). Pardon?" - John, Channel Isles