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Study: Smokers at Greater Risk of Developing Tuberculosis

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According to a new study from Taiwan, smokers are twice as likely as their peers who have never smoked to develop active tuberculosis (TB), Reuters reported Aug. 24.

Researchers tracked close to 18,000 people in Taiwan for over three years. More than 3,000 of the participants were current smokers, more than 500 previously smoked, and about 13,000 had never smoked.

By the end of the three-year study, there were 57 cases of new active TB. After controlling for variables such as age, sex and living conditions, the researchers found a higher risk of active TB among the participants who were currently smoking.

People who smoke may be less able to fight off viruses or bacteria such as the pathogen that causes TB,  according to the study.

“Based on results from ours and other studies, policymakers and public-health personnel should consider addressing tobacco cessation as part of tuberculosis control,” wrote Brigham and Women's Hospital  researcher Hsien-Ho Lin, the lead author of the study. 

The study is published in the September 2009 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

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