Research explores link between asthma and smoking

March 30, 2011

New research out of the University of Cincinnati suggests that being diagnosed with asthma is significantly associated with a greater risk for a lifetime history of daily smoking and nicotine dependence. The findings are reported in the online preview issue of the Journal of Health Psychology.

The article is authored by Alison McLeish, a UC assistant professor of psychology, along with Jesse Cougle, assistant professor of psychology at Florida State University, and Michael Zvolensky, a psychology professor at the University of Vermont. The study analyzed data from the National Comorbity Survey-Replication (NCS-R) – a large epidemiological survey of American adults.

The study found that individuals who were diagnosed with were 1.26 times more likely to have been a smoker, and twice as likely to have been nicotine dependent at some point in their lifetimes – compared to individuals without asthma. The researchers also found that the asthma-smoking association was stronger when focusing on nicotine dependence in the past 12 months. "Individuals with asthma were nearly three times as likely as those without asthma to have reported nicotine dependence in the past 12 months after controlling for demographic and drug abuse/dependence variables," the authors state in the article.

The study also found that roughly half of the smokers with asthma in the survey indicated that they began smoking prior to the age that they were diagnosed with asthma. That group reported being diagnosed with asthma at a much later age than those who began smoking after they were diagnosed with asthma. The article states that a lifetime history of was not significantly different between those who started smoking prior to (29.3 percent) or following (25.7 percent) an asthma diagnosis.

Based on the findings, the researchers suggest paying greater clinical attention to addressing tobacco use and dependence in relation to asthma.

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