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      Tobacco Smoke, Indoor Air Pollution and Tuberculosis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

      1 , 2 , 1 , 3 , 4 , *
      PLoS Medicine
      Public Library of Science

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          Tobacco smoking, passive smoking, and indoor air pollution from biomass fuels have been implicated as risk factors for tuberculosis (TB) infection, disease, and death. Tobacco smoking and indoor air pollution are persistent or growing exposures in regions where TB poses a major health risk. We undertook a systematic review and meta-analysis to quantitatively assess the association between these exposures and the risk of infection, disease, and death from TB.

          Methods and Findings

          We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies reporting effect estimates and 95% confidence intervals on how tobacco smoking, passive smoke exposure, and indoor air pollution are associated with TB. We identified 33 papers on tobacco smoking and TB, five papers on passive smoking and TB, and five on indoor air pollution and TB. We found substantial evidence that tobacco smoking is positively associated with TB, regardless of the specific TB outcomes. Compared with people who do not smoke, smokers have an increased risk of having a positive tuberculin skin test, of having active TB, and of dying from TB. Although we also found evidence that passive smoking and indoor air pollution increased the risk of TB disease, these associations are less strongly supported by the available evidence.


          There is consistent evidence that tobacco smoking is associated with an increased risk of TB. The finding that passive smoking and biomass fuel combustion also increase TB risk should be substantiated with larger studies in future. TB control programs might benefit from a focus on interventions aimed at reducing tobacco and indoor air pollution exposures, especially among those at high risk for exposure to TB.


          Evidence from a number of studies suggest that tobacco smoking, environmental tobacco smoke, and indoor air pollution from biomass fuels is associated with an increased risk of tuberculosis.

          Editors' Summary


          Tobacco smoking has been identified by the World Health Organization as one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Smokers are at higher risk than nonsmokers for a very wide variety of illnesses, many of which are life-threatening. Inhaling tobacco smoke, whether this is active (when an individual smokes) or passive (when an individual is exposed to cigarette smoke in their environment) has also been associated with tuberculosis (TB). Many people infected with the TB bacterium never develop disease, but it is thought that people infected with TB who also smoke are far more likely to develop the symptoms of disease, and to have worse outcomes when they do.

          Why Was This Study Done?

          The researchers were specifically interested in the link between smoking and TB. They wanted to try to work out the overall increase in risk for getting TB in people who smoke, as compared with people who do not smoke. In this study, the researchers wanted to separately study the risks for different types of exposure to smoke, so, for example, what the risks were for people who actively smoke as distinct from people who are exposed to smoke from others. The researchers also wanted to calculate the association between TB and exposure to indoor pollution from burning fuels such as wood and charcoal.

          What Did the Researchers Do and Find?

          In carrying out this study, the researchers wanted to base their conclusions on all the relevant information that was already available worldwide. Therefore they carried out a systematic review. A systematic review involves setting out the research question that is being asked and then developing a search strategy to find all the meaningful evidence relating to the particular question under study. For this systematic review, the researchers wanted to find all published research in the biomedical literature that looked at human participants and dealt with the association between active smoking, passive smoking, indoor air pollution and TB. Studies were included if they were published in English, Russian, or Chinese, and included enough data for the researchers to calculate a number for the increase in TB risk. The researchers initially found 1,397 research studies but then narrowed that down to 38 that fit their criteria. Then specific pieces of data were extracted from each of those studies and in some cases the researchers combined data to produce overall calculations for the increase in TB risk. Separate assessments were done for different aspects of “TB risk,” namely, TB infection, TB disease, and mortality from TB. The data showed an approximately 2-fold increase in risk of TB infection among smokers as compared with nonsmokers. The researchers found that all studies evaluating the link between smoking and TB disease or TB mortality showed an association, but they did not combine these data together because of wide potential differences between the studies. Finally, all studies looking at passive smoking found an association with TB, as did some of those examining the link with indoor air pollution.

          What Do These Findings Mean?

          The findings here show that smoking is associated with an increased risk of TB infection, disease, and deaths from TB. The researchers found much more data on the risks for active smoking than on passive smoking or indoor air pollution. Tobacco smoking is increasing in many countries where TB is already a problem. These results therefore suggest that it is important for health policy makers to further develop strategies for controlling tobacco use in order to reduce the impact of TB worldwide.

          Additional Information.

          Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040020

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          Most cited references70

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          Meta-analysis of observational studies in epidemiology: a proposal for reporting. Meta-analysis Of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (MOOSE) group.

          Because of the pressure for timely, informed decisions in public health and clinical practice and the explosion of information in the scientific literature, research results must be synthesized. Meta-analyses are increasingly used to address this problem, and they often evaluate observational studies. A workshop was held in Atlanta, Ga, in April 1997, to examine the reporting of meta-analyses of observational studies and to make recommendations to aid authors, reviewers, editors, and readers. Twenty-seven participants were selected by a steering committee, based on expertise in clinical practice, trials, statistics, epidemiology, social sciences, and biomedical editing. Deliberations of the workshop were open to other interested scientists. Funding for this activity was provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We conducted a systematic review of the published literature on the conduct and reporting of meta-analyses in observational studies using MEDLINE, Educational Research Information Center (ERIC), PsycLIT, and the Current Index to Statistics. We also examined reference lists of the 32 studies retrieved and contacted experts in the field. Participants were assigned to small-group discussions on the subjects of bias, searching and abstracting, heterogeneity, study categorization, and statistical methods. From the material presented at the workshop, the authors developed a checklist summarizing recommendations for reporting meta-analyses of observational studies. The checklist and supporting evidence were circulated to all conference attendees and additional experts. All suggestions for revisions were addressed. The proposed checklist contains specifications for reporting of meta-analyses of observational studies in epidemiology, including background, search strategy, methods, results, discussion, and conclusion. Use of the checklist should improve the usefulness of meta-analyses for authors, reviewers, editors, readers, and decision makers. An evaluation plan is suggested and research areas are explored.
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            Glucocorticoid use, other associated factors, and the risk of tuberculosis.

            To evaluate the association of glucocorticoids and other purported risk factors with the development of tuberculosis. We conducted a case-control study of tuberculosis cases identified during 1990-2001 using the General Practice Research Database in the United Kingdom. Cases were patients with a first time diagnosis of tuberculosis accompanied by at least 6 months of treatment with at least 3 different tuberculosis medications. Up to 4 controls were matched to each case on age, sex, the practice attended by the case, index date, and amount of prior computerized records. The study encompassed 497 new cases of tuberculosis and 1,966 controls derived from 16,629,041 person-years at risk (n = 2,757,084 persons). The adjusted odds ratio (OR) of tuberculosis for current use of a glucocorticoid compared with no use was 4.9 (95% confidence interval [95% CI] 2.9-8.3). The adjusted ORs for use of or =15 mg of prednisone or its equivalent daily dose were 2.8 (95% CI 1.0-7.9) and 7.7 (95% CI 2.8-21.4), respectively. Adjusted ORs of tuberculosis were 2.8 for patients with a body mass index (BMI) <20 compared with normal BMI; 1.6 for current smokers compared with nonsmokers; and 3.8, 3.2, 2.0, and 1.4 for those with history of diabetes, emphysema, bronchitis, and asthma, respectively, compared with those without such history (all P values <0.05). These results indicate that patients treated with glucocorticoids have an increased risk of developing tuberculosis, independent of other risk factors. Low adiposity, diabetes, current smoking, and obstructive pulmonary disorders are also important independent risk factors for tuberculosis.
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              Emerging tobacco hazards in China: 1. Retrospective proportional mortality study of one million deaths.

              To assess the hazards at an early phase of the growing epidemic of deaths from tobacco in China. Smoking habits before 1980 (obtained from family or other informants) of 0.7 million adults who had died of neoplastic, respiratory, or vascular causes were compared with those of a reference group of 0.2 million who had died of other causes. 24 urban and 74 rural areas of China. One million people who had died during 1986-8 and whose families could be interviewed. Tobacco attributable mortality in middle or old age from neoplastic, respiratory, or vascular disease. Among male smokers aged 35-69 there was a 51% (SE 2) excess of neoplastic deaths, a 31% (2) excess of respiratory deaths, and a 15% (2) excess of vascular deaths. All three excesses were significant (P /70 there was a 39% (3) excess of neoplastic deaths, a 54% (2) excess of respiratory deaths, and a 6% (2) excess of vascular deaths. Fewer women smoked, but those who did had tobacco attributable risks of lung cancer and respiratory disease about the same as men. For both sexes, the lung cancer rates at ages 35-69 were about three times as great in smokers as in non-smokers, but because the rates among non-smokers in different parts of China varied widely the absolute excesses of lung cancer in smokers also varied. Of all deaths attributed to tobacco, 45% were due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and 15% to lung cancer; oesophageal cancer, stomach cancer, liver cancer, tuberculosis, stroke, and ischaemic heart disease each caused 5-8%. Tobacco caused about 0.6 million Chinese deaths in 1990 (0.5 million men). This will rise to 0.8 million in 2000 (0.4 million at ages 35-69) or to more if the tobacco attributed fractions increase. At current age specific death rates in smokers and non-smokers one in four smokers would be killed by tobacco, but as the epidemic grows this proportion will roughly double. If current smoking uptake rates persist in China (where about two thirds of men but few women become smokers) tobacco will kill about 100 million of the 0.3 billion males now aged 0-29, with half these deaths in middle age and half in old age.

                Author and article information

                Role: Academic Editor
                PLoS Med
                PLoS Medicine
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                January 2007
                16 January 2007
                : 4
                : 1
                [1 ] Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America
                [2 ] Department of Population and International Health and Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America
                [3 ] Division of Social Medicine and Health Inequalities, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America
                [4 ] Infectious Disease Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America
                Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, United States of America
                Author notes
                * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: mmurray@ 123456hsph.harvard.edu
                06-PLME-RA-0571R3 plme-04-01-06
                Copyright: © 2007 Lin et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
                Page count
                Pages: 1
                Research Article
                Infectious Diseases
                Public Health and Epidemiology
                Public Health and Epidemiology
                Public Health
                Environmental Health
                Custom metadata
                Lin HH, Ezzati M, Murray M (2007) Tobacco smoke, indoor air pollution and tuberculosis: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS Med 4(1): e20. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0040020



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