Friday, March 28, 2008

Does Cigarette Smoking Increase the Disabling Effects of MS, or Multiple Sclerosis

Researchers at the Buffalo Neuroimaging Analysis Center at the University at (yes, "at") Buffalo seem to think that the MRIs of over three hundred multiple sclerosis patients indicated that cigarette smoking does increase the disabling affect of MS.

The study included patients who suffered from three types of multiple sclerosis: nine individuals suffered from primary progressive, ninety individuals had secondary-progressive, and the other 253 individuals had relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. Of this group, one hundred and twenty eight individuals were either active smokers or they had been smokers in the past, which left about two hundred and forty eight non-smokers.

Researchers studying the MRIs of the group found that smokers had lower brain volume than non-smokers, and that there was a connection between the number of cigarettes the individual smoked and decreased brain volume in the neocortex (the center of higher brain function).

The interesting point of the study was that, other than the decrease in brain volume among smokers, there were no other substantial clinical differences between smoker and non smoker multiple sclerosis sufferers.

Researchers feel that cigarette smoking increases the severity of multiple sclerosis because it speeds up brain atrophy and interferes with the blood brain barrier in the brain. Since brain atrophy is a common symptom of multiple sclerosis whether you are a smoker or non-smoker, conventional wisdom would suggest that multiple sclerosis sufferers should stop smoking or at least lessen the amount of cigarettes they smoke in order to protect as much higher brain function as possible.

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