Smoking at Young Age May Raise MS Risk
Study Shows Higher Risk of Multiple Sclerosis for Smokers Who Start Smoking Habit Early
Feb. 20, 2009 -- Youngsters who start smoking before age 17 may be putting
themselves at increased risk of developing multiple sclerosis, a new study
Researchers studied 87 patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) who were among
more than 30,000 people who took part in the 2002 National Health Interview
The people were divided into three groups: nonsmokers, early smokers who
started before age 17, and late smokers who started at 17 or later.
The people who started smoking before age 17 were 2.7 times more likely than
nonsmokers to develop multiple sclerosis, the researchers say.
People who started smoking at 17 or later did not show an increased risk of
developing multiple sclerosis compared to nonsmokers, according to the
About 32% of the MS patients were early smokers, compared to 19% of the
people who didn't develop the disease, the researchers say.
"Studies show that environmental factors play a prominent role in
multiple sclerosis," says study researcher Joseph Finkelstein, MD, PhD, of
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. "Early smoking is
an environmental factor that can be avoided."
The study findings took into account sex, race, age, marital status,
education, income level, and region.
The researchers say limited studies in the past also have suggested smoking
as a risk factor for MS.
Their findings are to be presented April 25-May 2 at the annual meeting of
the American Academy of Neurology in Seattle.