Smoking is a well-established risk factor for the development of MS, but the effects it has on disease progression after diagnosis have been less clear.
However a new study from researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, is the first to provide strong evidence that quitting smoking after diagnosis of MS can delay the time taken to reach the secondary progressive phase of the disease.
The study, by Dr Ramanujen and Professor Hillert and their colleagues was published this week in the journal JAMA Neurology.
The researchers examined the data from 728 people who identified as smokers at the time of diagnosis. These people were then divided into two groups based on their smoking behaviour after diagnosis (continuers and quitters) and the researchers looked at the average time to diagnosis of secondary progressive disease.
They found that on average the quitters reached the secondary progressive phase of the disease 8 years later than those who continued smoking after diagnosis. This equates to a 4.7% acceleration in the time to onset of secondary progression in people who continue to smoke after an MS diagnosis.
For further information about studies carried out on the links between smoking and MS visit MS Australia’s research review here.