Elderly more likely to deny smoking when asked

Feb 07, 2008

More elderly adults are lighting up cigarettes and not reporting their nicotine habits to doctors and others, according to findings from one of the first studies to examine the accuracy of self-reported smoking habits by age, race and gender of adults 18 years and older by researchers at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine and other university collaborators. A combined total of 8 percent of people from all age and race groups studied were true smokers but had denied it.

The findings bring into question the validity of using self-reported tobacco use when conducting research projects, reporting tobacco use by the general public or caring for individuals with chronic diseases related to smoking, according to researchers of the study, “Age and Race/Ethnicity-Gender Predictors of Denying Smoking, United States.” The study has been published in the current Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved.

The researchers conducted their study by identifying self-reported non-smokers from 15, 182 adults in the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They examined usage by age groups of 18-34, 35-54, 55-74, and 75-90. Groups of men and women were broken down by race and ethnicity into Mexican American, non-Hispanic White and non-Hispanic Black groups. The age group of 60 and older was also broken down into cognitively competent.

“Denying smoking overall increased with age from 6% of 18-34 year olds to 25% of the elderly over the age of 75,” said the article’s lead author, Monica Fisher, Ph.D., DDS, MS, MPH, an associate professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine.

Non-Hispanic white men and women followed the pattern of the overall study and increased denial with age. However denial of smoking decreased for older Mexican American women, but the denial rate basically remained stable over age for non-Hispanic black men and women and Mexican American men.

Social taboos against smoking among the older groups may drive some elderly to deny smoking, said Fisher.

But the consequences can be deadly. For example, researchers reported that an earlier study by other researchers showed cotinine—by-product of nicotine use that stays in the blood for several days after smoking -based smokers who self-reported as non smokers—had significantly higher mortality rates (36%) than self-reported true non-smokers (15%).

Fisher and other researchers from Case Western Reserve, the University of Michigan and the University of Kentucky called for the use of biomarkers, such as cotinine, as a more accurate measure of smoking when smoking is an important factor in the outcomes of research or health issues.

They compared the participant’s self-reported smoking habits to blood levels of cotinine, to see if self-reported smoking habits matched the blood test. The researchers also used cotinine levels of 15ng/ml or greater to rule out individuals exposed to second-hand smoke. They also eliminated cigar, pipe or smokeless tobacco users from the study.

While researchers detected true smokers, the segment that occasionally smokes was potentially missed, which could raise the number of people who smoke.

Source: Case Western Reserve University

Explore further: Low Vitamin D may not be a culprit in menopause symptoms

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Guns aren't the only things killing cops

13 hours ago

The public does not realize—in fact, police themselves may not realize—that the dangers police officers are exposed to on a daily basis are far worse than anything on "Law and Order."

3,200-year-old skeleton found with cancer

Mar 17, 2014

Archaeologists have found the 3,200-year-old skeleton of a man with a spreading form of cancer, the oldest example so far of a disease often associated with modern lifestyles, scientists said Monday.

Climate change key to megafauna deaths

Feb 18, 2014

An ancient DNA specialist from Murdoch University has helped pinpoint the cause of mass extinctions of megafauna such as woolly rhinos, mammoth and other Ice Age mammals.

A 'smoking gun' on the Ice Age megafauna extinctions

Feb 05, 2014

It was climate that killed many of the large mammals after the latest Ice Age. But what more specifically was it with the climate that led to this mass extinction? The answer to this is hidden in a large ...

Sensor system detects falls, calls emergency services

Feb 03, 2014

Single seniors lead a risky life: after a fall, they often lie on the floor several hours before their awkward predicament is discovered. A sensor system detects these emergency situations automatically and ...

Recommended for you

Low Vitamin D may not be a culprit in menopause symptoms

4 hours ago

A new study from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) shows no significant connection between vitamin D levels and menopause symptoms. The study was published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopa ...

Internists favor public policy to reduce gun violence

10 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Most internists believe that firearm-related violence is a public health issue and favor policy initiatives aimed at reducing it, according to research published online April 10 in the Annals of ...

iPLEDGE isotretinoin counseling may need updating

10 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The iPLEDGE program needs to provide women with information about more contraceptive choices, including reversible contraceptives, according to research published in the April issue of JAMA De ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Low Vitamin D may not be a culprit in menopause symptoms

A new study from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) shows no significant connection between vitamin D levels and menopause symptoms. The study was published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopa ...

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

The shortest path to the Internet for some remote corners of the world may be through the skies. That is the message from US tech giants seeking to spread the online gospel to hard-to-reach regions.

Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone theft.