The recent study lends weight to the conclusion, reached in some but not all previous studies, that smoking does in fact worsen MS symptoms, said Dr. John Richert, executive vice president for research and clinical programs for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, which helped to fund the study.
In the past few years, he said, some studies have reached conflicting conclusions about the effect of smoking on MS symptoms. But with the latest finding, he said, it tips the balance and confirms that smoking does indeed seem to worsen the symptoms.
"I think the most current paper is probably right," he said. "It certainly is consistent with the data that shows that smoking increases the risk of developing MS in the first place."
MS patients should give up smoking for general health reasons anyway, Richert added. "Now we can add another reason, that it might make your MS worse, according to two of three studies."
Weinstock-Guttman said her MS patients who smoke have been receptive to the new information. "They are much more open now to considering quitting smoking," she noted.
Smoking is also linked to worsening of psoriasis. In an Italian study, people with psoriasis who smoked 20 cigarettes a day had twice the risk of more severe symptoms than those who smoked less than 10 cigarettes a day. The effects were more pronounced among women than men, the researchers found.
To learn more about multiple sclerosis, visit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society
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