Multiple sclerosis (MS) patients who smoke have a significantly worse quality of life than non-smoking MS patients, concludes a new study.
Researchers presented the study, “Smokers with MS have greater decrements in quality of life and disability than non-smokers,” at the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) 2017 Forum, held Feb. 23-25 in Orlando, Florida.
Tobacco is known to worsen the prognosis in a variety of diseases including MS, yet some patients continue to smoke even after MS symptoms appear. In this study, researchers analyzed the links among smoking status and patients’ health-related quality of life (HRQOL), disease activity and global disability in a U.S. cohort of MS patients.
To this end, researchers compared smokers to non-smokers in a random sample of 950 people who responded to a survey conducted by the North American Research Committee on MS. The HRQOL included both a physical component and a mental component summary. The team used performance and functionality scales to assess disease activity, and Patient Determined Disease Steps to evaluate global disability. Results addressing the link between smoking status and disease outcomes were adjusted for patients’ sex, disease onset age, age at survey, time from diagnosis, race, body mass index and MS subtype.
Researchers found that 11 percent of those analyzed were active smokers. They scored lower on all HRQOL indicators than non-smokers. They also scored lower on the mental and physical component summary and had more disabilities, as measured by the performance and functionality scales (exception mobility).
“Active smokers were ~50% more likely to report greater disability in bladder/bowel domain, sensory symptoms and spasticity compared to non-smokers,” researchers wrote. “For dexterity, vision, fatigue, cognitive symptoms, depression, tremor/coordination and pain, smokers were at least twice as likely to report greater disability compared to non-smokers.”
Gender, number of cigarettes smoked, or MS subtype did not influence any of the observed trends.
Overall, “active smoking is meaningfully associated with deficits across multiple domains in people with MS, and adds to the growing literature of the need for MS-tailored smoking cessation programs,” researchers concluded.