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In MS, Smoking May Speed Up Disability, Lower Treatment Effectiveness

Smoking may increase MS disease activity.

Smoking may increase multiple sclerosis (MS) disease activity, quicken disability progression, and speed the transition from relapsing to secondary progressive MS (SPMS) by as much as eight years, according to an MS Society review study.

The review data shows that, although the U.K.’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) advises healthcare professionals to inform people of the connection between smoking and MS as soon as they’re diagnosed, most patients are still unaware of this link.

Specifically, a recent study reported that 89 percent of MS patients did not know anything about the risks of smoking in MS.

“MS can be painful and unpredictable, and is often stressful to manage. Some people with MS believe smoking helps them manage stress, and healthcare professionals can be reluctant to take that ally away from someone who’s just been diagnosed,” Waqar Rashid, MD, a consultant neurologist at St George’s Hospital in London, said in a press release.

However, “knowing that continuing to smoke might impact the disease and its progression could make a radical difference to some people,” Rashid said.

MS specialists play a key role in this by having conversations with patients as soon as appropriate, and making these discussions routine in their consultations, he added.

The data also revealed that smoking may increase the number or size of brain lesions appearing in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, which could worsen MS symptoms. Smoking may also decrease the effectiveness of treatments.

The independent research review was conducted just before Stoptober, an annual 28-day quit-smoking campaign from Public Health England (PHE), launched in 2012.

The 2018 campaign will start Oct. 1. According to PHE, Stoptober has led to more than 1 million quit attempts so far and is the biggest quit attempt in England. It is based on evidence that people who stop smoking for 28 days are five times more likely to quit for good.

Read on: In MS, Smoking May Speed Up Disability, Lower Treatment Effectiveness

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