Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Smoking and MS

Time to educate your family about the risks of smoking and MS. #MSBlog #MSResearch

"How many of you have been counselled to tell your children, siblings and extended family about the strong link between smoking and MS risk? It may be too late for you if you already have MS, but your extended family are at increased risk of developing the disease and therefore it is your responsibility to educate then about the risks of smoking and MS. If you smoke your risks of getting MS are 50% higher than if you don't smoke. One of the great tragedys about smoking is that most people are unaware of the autoimmune risks associated with the addiction. Prevention is better than cure; please don't smoke."

"One of the reasons for us launching the Digesting Science teaching course was to create a vehicle for educating children of MSers about MS and MS prevention. We are desperately trying to get the programme to go viral and to expand the number of components or stations on the course to include more on prevention, including smoking. The problem with smoking prevention is that we are up against the marketing might of the tobacco industry and their subliminal marketing campaigns. Proof of this are the shocking trends in regard to smoking in teenage girls in England. What can be done to stop  this curse? Some say that the incidence of MS would be cut by up to a quarter in the first smoking-free generation. I suspect this estimate is a bit ambitious, but imagine preventing 1 in 4 people who are destined to get MS from getting the disease? Wow that is what I would call progress. This is why preventive medicine is such an appealing science."

"Please note that smoking has also been linked to a worse outcome in MSers with established disease. In other words if you continue to smoke your MS is likely to progress at a  faster rate."

"Please use the search engine on the web version of this blog to read-up about smoking and MS; there are numerous posts on this topic."

Epub: O'Gorman C, Broadley SA. Smoking and multiple sclerosis: evidence for latitudinal and temporal variation.J Neurol. 2014 Jun 13.

Background: There is growing evidence for the role of smoking in the aetiology of multiple sclerosis. 

Objectives: We have expanded existing meta-analyses and further explored the roles of study design, gender, latitude and year of study with regression modelling. 

Results: We have found a consistent association between smoking and MS with an odds ratio of approximately 1.5, with males at higher risk. This finding is independent of study design. However, latitude and year of study may have unexpected influence. Smoking appeared to confer a greater risk to females living closer to the equator than to females at higher latitudes. The effect of cigarette smoke exposure on MS risk may not be fixed over time, but could be increasing. 

Conclusions: These results suggest a threshold model of MS risk that includes a fairly constant genetic risk (for Caucasian populations) together with variable environmental risks which are dominated by vitamin D deficiency at higher latitudes and are more significant in women who have an intrinsically lower threshold for development of disease.


  1. I have always felt that cigarettes were the only explanation for my MS. I grew up in the southern US and have no family history of MS. I was even born in November. But smoking? You bet! Me, Mom, everybody smoked. We gave it up decades before my diagnosis, but it got me nonetheless. And now here's study data to show I might be right about the cause.

    I also suspect I was exposed to extra horrible chemicals in those days as I smoked weird off brands that promised ultra low tar and nicotine. How could anybody smoke that stuff and NOT end up with a horrible neurological disease?

  2. Is there evidence that passive smoking is as harmful in the context of MS? I have never smoked but grew up with parents who did and in my 20s and 30s was around smoker friends.

  3. So did I. I also got lung cancer. I've heard there are statistics regarding the incidence of heart disease since the smoking ban, anyone doing research into the same with MS?

  4. There is, though, something that still strikes me as amazingly cool about seeing a hip dressed youngster with a fag between the lips. it's pure rock and roll.

    1. it's pure rock and roll.

      So is death from an over dose....but what's so cool about that.

      As an ex smoked haddock or is that Addict you realise that those cool cloths smell like a smoked haddock

  5. Dr. G,
    This has been known from past research http://brain.oxfordjournals.org/content/136/7/2298.full
    The use of medical marijuana via smoking is counterproductive and hypocritical; either vaporize or spray (no I do not work for GW pharma). Healthcare professionals should be more responsible. Any thoughts on how smoking may contribute to developing MS? BBB disruption?

    1. The UK medical establishment has never supported smoking marijuana for health reasons.
      They have been battling against smoking ciggies for years and surely it is a retrograde step to start to support smoking marijuana, particularly when it is full of tar etc and unfiltered but that is what has happened in the US.

      I can never forget some weed toting hippie in Baltimore ranting about smoking tobacco

      Not sure why tobacco smoke increases BBB disruption...maybe it just makes people more sociable and spreading saliva and EBV :-)

    2. i have ms when I smoke it does cause my ms condition some changes not for the best! as to when i have not smoked for a few days. I believe there could be link, gavin good on you
      Tell the world now!

    3. I do smoke. I continued smoking even after my recent MS diagnosis. I didn't know the relation between MS and smoking. A month after corticosteroid injections whenever i smoke i feel my fingers worse. Is the influence of smoking so immidiate?

  6. Please be careful about what you say and what you accuse in posts

    Anon said

    "They ignore the role of Epstein-Barr virus in MS, along with the fact that smokers are more likely to have been infected, and at younger ages due to socioeconomics, than non-smokers. EBV is now considered an obligatory precondition for MS, so it is more important than a mere so-called risk factor, and their defective studies are designed to falsely blame smoking for what is really just a higher rate of EBV infection.

    HLA-DRB1*1501 is at highest frequency in northwestern Europe, including Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Great Britain, with another peak around Moscow, Russia. And they ignored that as well. http://www.smokershistory.com/EBVandMS.html


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