Cigarette smoking increases the relapse rate in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) who are being treated with interferon-beta, a study suggests.
The findings suggest that RRMS patients who smoke may have fewer relapses if they quit.
An article on the results, “Smoking affects the interferon beta treatment response in multiple sclerosis,” appeared in the journal Neurology.
A number of studies have looked at the link between environmental and lifestyle factors and the risk of developing MS. These factors include how much sunlight and vitamin D patients get and whether they have an Epstein-Barr virus infection.
Cigarette smoking is a well-documented risk factor in MS, but most of the studies on it have focused on the link between smoking and MS, or the link between smoking and the disease’s progression.
“Studies that addressed the relationship between smoking and disease activity in RRMS are rarer,” the researchers wrote.
The team decided to investigate whether smoking during interferon-beta treatment would affect relapse rates.
Previous research had set the stage for the study by showing a link between smoking and gene mutations that make people more susceptible to developing MS. The mutations were in the HLA and NAT1 genes.
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