Smoking may be more likely to kill HIV patients than the virus

From NBC News online

Smoking is so deadly that it may be more likely to kill HIV patients than the virus, researchers reported Thursday.

A second study helps explain why — it causes dozens of cancer-causing DNA mutations.

New cocktails of HIV drugs can keep patients healthy, even though they don’t cure the infection. And they work so well that HIV patients who can get the drugs have almost the same life expectancy as uninfected Americans.

Image: Mutations produced by smoking
A chart of the yearly number of mutations produced in a given type of cell by smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Genome Research Limited

The trouble is, 40 percent of HIV patients smoke — more than twice the rate of U.S. adults as a whole.

Dr. Krishna Reddy of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School and colleagues wanted to see which was worse — smoking or HIV. They used a computer projection to calculate the odds.

Smoking is worse, they report in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. On average, smoking cuts six years from the life expectancy of an otherwise healthy 40-year-old with well-controlled HIV, they found.

“It is well known that smoking is bad for health, but we demonstrate in this study just how bad it is,” Reddy said in a statement.

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