Monday, October 15, 2007

Study: Smoking Worsens Multiple Sclerosis

By Rafael B.

New research carried out at the Buffalo Neuroimaging Analysis Center (BNAC) of the University at Buffalo has shown that smoking increases the degree of disability of people who have the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) disease due to a increase of the degree of brain tissue shrinkage.

Results of this research were presented at the 23rd Congress of the European Committee for the Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis in Prague, Czech Republic.

The observed effect of smoking on brain shrinkage is based on the analysis of hundred of magnetic resonance images obtained from smoking and non smoking participants of a study aimed at investigating the risks that smoking has on this debilitating disease.

Robert Zivadinov, M.D., Ph.D., UB professor of neurology, director of the BNAC and first author on the study sais at the conference, "Cigarette smoke has many properties that are toxic to the central nervous system, and cigarette smoking has been linked to higher susceptibility and risk of progressive multiple sclerosis,"

According to Zivadinov, "No previous studies have investigated differences in MRI characteristics between MS cigarette smokers and MS nonsmokers,"

The study included 253 Multiple sclerosis patients who had relapsing-remitting MS -- acute attacks with full or partial recovery; 9 that experienced primary-progressive MS -- steady worsening from onset; and 90 that had secondary-progressive MS, characterized by occasional attacks and sustained progression. Another 16 participants had experienced their first Multiple Sclerosis onset.

Participant of the study were 35-55 years, and had been living with MS for 13 years (average). The average Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) was 3.1. (EDSS is an average number derived from measures of various functions of the central nervous system based on scales ranging from 0 to 10---- The higher the number, the greater the disability-----).

Regarding smoking history 128 participants had smoked: 96 were active smokers who had smoked more than 10 cigarettes-per-day in the three months prior to the study start, and 32 were former smokers who had smoked cumulatively for at least 6 months sometime in the past. Two hundred and forty (240) participants were not active smokers.

Whe MRIs from smokers and nonsmokers were compared it was found that smokers had significantly higher disability scores and lower brain volume than the nonsmokers.

Also, it was observed that a significant relationship exists between a higher number of packs-per-day smoked and lower volume of the brain.

Zivadinov said, "MS patients should be counseled to stop smoking, or at least to cut down so they can preserve as much brain function as possible."


R. Zivadinov, M. Stosic, B.E. Teter, F.E. Munschauer, S. Hussein, J. Dufree, M.G. Dwyer, J.L. Cox, N. Hani, F. Nussenbaum, B. Weinstock-Guttman . Cigarette smoking and MRI characteristics in multiple sclerosis. Imaging 2 session. Saturday, October 13, 2007, 15:30 - 17:00. 23rd Congress of the European Committee for the Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS). Prague. Czech Republic. Abstract URL: