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Infectious Diseases - Public Health and Epidemiology - Respiratory Medicine

Association between Smoking and Latent Tuberculosis in the U.S. Population: An Analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey
Published: Thursday, November 08, 2012
Author: David J Horne et al.

by David J Horne, Monica Campo, Justin R. Ortiz, Eyal Oren, Matthew Arentz, Kristina Crothers, Masahiro Narita


Evidence of an association between cigarette smoking and latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) is based on studies in special populations and/or from high prevalence settings. We sought to evaluate the association between LTBI and smoking in a low prevalence TB setting using population-based data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).


In 1999–2000, NHANES assessed LTBI (defined as a tuberculin skin test measurement =10 mm) in participants, and those =20 years of age were queried regarding their tobacco use and serum cotinine was measured. We evaluated the association of LTBI with self-reported smoking history and smoking intensity in multivariable logistic regression models that adjusted for known confounders (gender, age, birthplace, race/ethnicity, poverty, education, history of BCG vaccination, and history of household exposure to tuberculosis disease).


Estimated LTBI prevalence was 5.3% among those =20 years of age. The LTBI prevalence among never smokers, current smokers, and former smokers was 4.1%, 6.6%, and 6.2%, respectively. In a multivariable model, current smoking was associated with LTBI (OR 1.8; 95% CI, 1.1–2.9). The association between smoking and LTBI was strongest for Mexican-American and black individuals. In multivariate analysis stratified by race/ethnicity, cigarette packs per day among Mexican-American smokers and cotinine levels among black smokers, were significantly associated with LTBI.


In the large, representative, population-based NHANES sample, smoking was independently associated with significantly increased risks of LTBI. In certain populations, a greater risk of LTBI corresponded with increased smoking exposure.