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Smoking Linked to More Rapid Multiple Sclerosis Progression

Last Updated: July 15, 2009.

Patients with multiple sclerosis who smoke have worse disease and develop progressive disease faster than nonsmokers, according to a study in the July issue of the Archives of Neurology.

WEDNESDAY, July 15 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with multiple sclerosis who smoke have worse disease and develop progressive disease faster than nonsmokers, according to a study in the July issue of the Archives of Neurology.

Brian C. Healy, Ph.D., from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues compared disease progression among 1,465 patients with multiple sclerosis, where 53.2 percent had never smoked, 29.2 percent were ex-smokers, and 17.5 percent were current smokers.

The researchers found that at baseline, current smokers had significantly worse disease (as assessed by the Expanded Disability Status Scale score, Multiple Sclerosis Severity Score, and brain parenchymal fraction) and were significantly more likely to have primary progressive multiple sclerosis (adjusted odds ratio, 2.41). After a mean follow-up of 3.29 years, they found that disease progressed from relapsing-remitting to secondary progressive disease faster in current smokers compared with patients who had never smoked (hazard ratio, 2.50). Current smokers also had significantly faster increases in the T2-weighted lesion volume and significantly faster decreases in brain parenchymal fraction.

"Our data suggest that cigarette smoke has an adverse influence on the progression of multiple sclerosis and accelerates conversion from a relapsing-remitting to a progressive course," Healy and colleagues conclude.

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