October 11, 2019 - 18:40 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Cigarette smoking has long been known to cause lung cancer, but older Chinese American men are at an even greater risk. That knowledge prompted researchers at Rutgers Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research (IFH) to study whether smoking is related to elevated risks of other health conditions in this vulnerable population, News Medical reports.
Researchers hypothesized that among older Chinese American men, current or former smokers would be in poorer health than those who never smoked. That was true, but researchers were surprised to find that former smokers –– not current smokers –– appeared to have the worst health among the three groups.
Compared to former smokers, current smokers were less likely to have heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, thyroid disease, depression and anxiety. However, on average, study participants in all three groups reported at least one chronic illness, such as hypertension or diabetes. Current smokers also were more likely to be younger, less educated, and uninsured.
These partially conflicting results raise additional questions about the health outcomes and other potential health behaviors of former smokers. We don't fully understand why they may have quit smoking, or what other factors may be contributing to their poor health status. Ultimately it's important to make sure strategies to prevent and reduce tobacco are targeting this population."
Dr. Chien-Ching Li, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate professor at Rush University and the lead researcher
The study is one of the first of its kind. Researchers drew data from the Population Study of Chinese Elderly (PINE) Study in Chicago, the most extensive epidemiological cohort study of Chinese older adults in the United States.
Like other studies, the results confirm that despite overall declines in smoking rates in the United States in recent years, there are still significant disparities among some immigrant populations, especially older Chinese American men. Approximately a quarter of older Chinese American men are current smokers, compared with only 8.8% of the general US population aged 65 and older.
Researchers also noted that further studies are warranted into the overall causes of smoking among older Chinese American men. Such information could lead to more effective interventions and smoking cessation tools that could help to reduce poor outcomes among this population and others exposed to secondhand smoke.