Is there a link between smoking and multiple sclerosis?
* “People who start smoking before age 17 may increase their risk for developing multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study released February 20 that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 61st Annual Meeting in Seattle, April 25 to May 2, 2009”
"In this study, early smokers were 2.7 times more likely to develop MS than nonsmokers. Late smokers did not have an increased risk for the disease. More than 32 percent of the MS patients were early smokers, compared to 19 percent of the people without MS." - ScienceDaily (Feb. 20, 2009)
* In March 2005, the Oxford University Press published a report that supports “the hypothesis that cigarette smoking is associated with an increased risk of multiple sclerosis, and suggest that smoking may be a risk factor for transforming a relapsing-remitting clinical course into a secondary progressive course.”
* “Contrary to an earlier report, smoking appears to have no effect on the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a new study." - Science Daily (Oct. 11, 2007) (for the opposing view)
* “Persons with multiple sclerosis who smoke risk increasing the amount of brain tissue shrinkage, a consequence of MS, and the subsequent severity of their disease, new research conducted at the Buffalo Neuroimaging Analysis Center (BNAC) at the University at Buffalo has shown.” - University of Buffalo News (October 13, 2007)
If multiple sclerosis isn't enough to scare you, how about heart disease or cancer? Sadly, if smokers under age 17 are not put off by lung cancer, they're not about to give multiple sclerosis a second thought.
By all accounts, the number of people with MS who smoke is fairly high. Speaking for myself, always a non-smoker, I find life with MS to be quite a challenge in its own right. I'm also aware that having MS does not protect me from other diseases. It is my responsibility to protect my own health from preventable illness. Smoking is like issuing an open invitation to trouble.
We've known for decades that smoking is harmful to health, but young people continue to be lured in by peer pressure and advertising. Health is much more fragile than we like to admit. Taking it for granted is a serious mistake. It's hard to explain that to the young, but let's do try.