Is Smoking Deadlier than HIV?
As if we all didn’t have enough reasons to quit smoking: A startling new study has found that H.I.V positive patients may be more likely to die early from tobacco than from the feared retrovirus.
The study followed nearly 3,000 Danish patients, using traditional statistical techniques to eliminate confounding health factors in its findings. When the numbers were crunched, a stark contrast emerged:
A 35-year-old H.I.V. patient who did not smoke was likely to live to age 78, while one who smoked was likely to die before age 63, the report found.
That is a significant finding that falls well outside the bounds of expected variation. In other words, it’s unlikely the result of the kind statistical “noise” or bias that can plague observational science. (Indeed, establishing the definitive link between tobacco and cancer was one of epidemiology’s great success stories.) What this finding means for public health is hardly new, but worth repeating: tobacco smoke is deadly stuff, perhaps even more so than a virus which modern medicine can now often manage for decades at a time.