Multiple sclerosis is accelerated and exacerbated by smoking
Smoking worsens the course of multiple sclerosis (MS) and causes the disease to progress more quickly, according to the current announcement by the German Society for Neurology (DGN), referring to a British study now published in the journal "Brain". According to the board member of the German Society of Neurology, Professor Ralf Gold, smoking in the population is still mostly associated with health risks such as lung cancer and vascular occlusion, but "smoking still has a third dimension."
To investigate the influence of smoking on multiple sclerosis, the British research team led by Professor Cris S. Constantinescu at the University of Nottingham analyzed the data from 895 MS patients. The average age of the subjects was 49 years and they had suffered from the immune disease for an average of 17 years, reports the DGN. When the diagnosis was made, almost half (49 percent) of the study participants were regular smokers. A comparison with the group of non-smokers showed "that the disease was clearly worse for smokers." Their values on the six-point EDSS scale were 0.68 points worse on average.
Smokers are more likely to experience impaired walking ability in MS Smoking has long been known as a risk factor for developing MS. So far, however, it has remained unclear “what influence cigarettes have on the course of the disease,” reports DGN. The British study has now shown that smokers were 64 percent more likely to suffer walking impairment as a result of the disease, which is the case with a severity of four or more on the EDSS scale. “The risk of reaching severity level 6, from which you cannot go further than 100 meters without support, was increased by 49 percent for smokers,” said the DGN announcement.
Hot smoke and its ingredients reinforce MS DGN board member Professor Gold explained that "the hot smoke and tar substances can stimulate the immune system of the lungs and thus increase the autoimmunity of MS". This is reflected in the significantly more severe course of the disease and its faster progression. The current study provides important information here to correctly assess the risk of smoking. "This is an important piece of work that also complements Swedish studies, in which researchers at the Karolinska Institute found an even greater increase in risk among women who smoke," said Professor Gold in the DGN press release.
Stopping smoking lowers the risk of particularly severe MS diseases The positive effect of stopping smoking on the course of the disease in MS, which the British researchers identified in their study, was pleasing. "Refraining from cigarettes benefited both patients who had quit smoking before the onset of MS and those who only later gave up smoking," reports the DGN. Compared to patients who were unable to quit smoking, the risk of achieving an EDSS value of 4 or 6 was reduced by about a third for both groups. (fp)