Every day nearly 3200 people under the age of 18 gamble with their health by smoking their first cigarette according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Highly addictive and devastating to one’s health, cigarettes can turn a healthy person into a cancer patient or victim of heart disease.
The CDC website says that smoking harms nearly every organ of the body. Tobacco and the chemicals found in cigarettes not only cause health problems, but also complicate non-smoking related diseases and treatment plans.
Multiple sclerosis is a disease that confounds many medical personnel. Little is known about how a patient comes to have MS and effective treatments are still being developed. However, cigarettes are thought to be a contributor in the advancement of the disease.
A team of researchers from Harvard found in a 2009 study that “MS disability progressed more quickly in smokers,” with the effects displayed in MRI results.
The study found that smokers, more than non-smokers, moved into a state of the secondary progressive course, which is an advanced phase when disabilities and flare-ups worsen quickly. It also found brain lesions and atrophy to be more common in smokers with MS than in non-smokers with MS.
Cigarettes decidedly complicate MS symptoms, but there is also discussion around whether smoking can cause the disease when combined with other environmental and genetic factors.
Doctors have been concerned that cigarettes may be an environmental risk factor in the development of MS since the 1960s. Many studies have been done on the subject over the past 50 years with inconclusive outcomes.
In the past decade “most but not all studies showed that smoking is associated with increased MS susceptibility,” stated the NCBI website.
In A study done for the National Institute of Health by Mayo Clinic doctor Dean M. Wingerchuk it was suggested that “MS has both genetic and environmental underpinnings,.” This means that one’s lifestyle may have as much of an effect on the likelihood of developing MS as genetics do.