last year of recurrent TB. She started secretly smoking in her 5th month of
24 March 2014 – Research published today provides critical new insight on harmful links
between smoking tobacco and developing tuberculosis (TB). Regular tobacco smoking
doubles the risk that people who have been successfully treated for TB will develop TB
again—a condition known as "recurrent" TB. The study is the most robust ever conducted
into how smoking tobacco increases the risk of recurrent TB.
It appears in the April issue of theInternational Journal of Tuberculosis and
"More than ever before, we understand how tobacco harms people who have already
beensuccessfully treated for TB," said Dr Chung-Yeh Deng of National Yang-Ming
University inTaipei , an author of the study. "No one should undergo the long, complex
treatment forTB only to unknowingly place themselves at heightened risk of getting
the disease again.With this research we can inform national tobacco control policies
and educate patientsabout the risks that smoking tobacco poses.
" The researchers followed a large sample of 5,567 TB patients in Taiwan, each
of whomhad TB confirmed through bacteriologic testing and went on to successfully
complete TB treatment. Of those patients, 1.5 percent developed a recurrent case of
TB, with regular tobacco smokers twice as likely to develop recurrent TB compared
with former smokersand with individuals who had never smoked tobacco. Regular
tobacco smokers were defined as individuals who smoked 10 or more cigarettes—
equivalent to half a pack—per day.
"Until this study was published, we didn't have a clear sense of how smoking tobacco
posed risks to TB patients who have put in the hard work of completing their treatment.
This is a robust study with important implications for patients, public health programmes
and policy-makers alike," said Dr Paula Fujiwara, Scientific Director of the International
Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), which publishes the journal.
The research was announced on 24 March to coincide with World TB Day, which
marks the anniversary of Prof Robert Koch's discovery of the bacteria that cause
tuberculosis in Berlin. More than a century later, Koch's discovery is still considered
among the most revolutionary in the history of medicine, since it paved the way to
finding a cure for thedisease known in the 19th century as "The White Plague".
"You often see tuberculosis still referred to as an 'ancient' disease, but this study
is furtherevidence that TB is a fully modern illness that is impacting people in new
ways," said José Luis Castro, Interim Executive Director of The Union. "Unless we
adapt our TBcontrol strategies to respond to newly ascertained risks, such as smoking
tobacco, theglobal rise in diabetes, and the overcrowding we see in cities as the world
urbanises, we will always remain two steps behind the bacteria that cause this disease."
To read the study, click here
# # #
Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that is transmitted from person to person
through the air, typically through coughing or sneezing. According to the World
Health Organization, in 2012 an estimated 8.6 million people became sick with TB,
and 1.3 million people died from TB or TB-related causes—more deaths than any
otherinfectious disease except HIV/AIDS. Current treatment regimens require a
patient to take several drugs for at least six months and up to two years or more for
some drug-resistant cases