Smoking May Speed Up MS Progression, Lower Treatment Effectiveness, Study Reports

Smoking May Speed Up MS Progression, Lower Treatment Effectiveness, Study Reports

Smoking may increase multiple sclerosis (MS) disease activity, quicken disability progression, and speed the transition from relapsing to secondary progressive MS (SPMS) by as much as eight years, according to an MS Society review study.

The review data shows that, although the U.K.’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) advises healthcare professionals to inform people of the connection between smoking and MS as soon as they’re diagnosed, most patients are still unaware of this link.

Specifically, a recent study reported that 89 percent of MS patients did not know anything about the risks of smoking in MS.

“MS can be painful and unpredictable, and is often stressful to manage. Some people with MS believe smoking helps them manage stress, and healthcare professionals can be reluctant to take that ally away from someone who’s just been diagnosed,” Waqar Rashid, MD, a consultant neurologist at St George’s Hospital in London, said in a press release.

However, “knowing that continuing to smoke might impact the disease and its progression could make a radical difference to some people,” Rashid said.

MS specialists play a key role in this by having conversations with patients as soon as appropriate, and making these discussions routine in their consultations, he added.

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The data also revealed that smoking may increase the number or size of brain lesions appearing in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, which could worsen MS symptoms. Smoking may also decrease the effectiveness of treatments.

The independent research review was conducted just before Stoptober, an annual 28-day quit-smoking campaign from Public Health England (PHE), launched in 2012.

The 2018 campaign will start Oct. 1. According to PHE, Stoptober has led to more than 1 million quit attempts so far and is the biggest quit attempt in England. It is based on evidence that people who stop smoking for 28 days are five times more likely to quit for good.

Organizers say the campaign aims to trigger significant quit attempts by increasing people’s motivation to quit smoking and providing products to make it easier. It offers free support, including an app, daily emails, Facebook Messenger, expert face-to-face advice from local stop-smoking services, and encouragement from the Stoptober community on Facebook.

MS Society is inviting all MS patients to take part in this year’s Stoptober. The society provides support links across the U.K., including how to sign up for the campaign, and specific help websites for those in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. More information can be found here.

Additional information on Stoptober or the association between smoking and MS can be found via the MS Society’s free MS Helpline in the U.K at 0808-800-8000 or by email at [email protected].

Stoptober is part of the wider One You PHE program, which helps adults in the U.K. make small changes to their lifestyle with a potentially big impact on their health. Besides smoking, One You addresses other behaviors and habits, including eating too much unhealthy food, drinking more than the recommended amount of alcohol, and not being active enough.


  1. Sheneque Lewis says:

    I try to stop smoking would they give MS patients in Virginia the cannibas to help with the pain I was told that from a doctor but they haven’t legalize it here yet for Ms patients or people with other illness

  2. I would love to be a nonsmoker but lack the will to do what it takes to become one. It does help me cope and it’s the only thing that I have left, as I cannot drink any longer because of the way that it affects me now with my MS symptoms. It distracts me from my pain and anguish, so I don’t see a way out of this vicious cycle. I can’t take the new drug Chantix because of the side effects and the patches don’t do a good enough job of curbing the cravings. I’ve bought many e-cigarettes to take the place of a real cigarette but even those weren’t enough. So, I think the only way it’s going to work for me, is to be in a place where I don’t have access to them and it’s not acceptable to smoke. Like, say if I were admitted to a hospital for an illness for at least 4 days, I would be able to quit by the mere fact that I was unable to access them and be forced to quit, which would save me from myself because clearly, this is what I need and what it will take to make me a nonsmoker!

    • Nancy Zell says:

      I like yourself smoke. When i was the hospital because i tripped and fell and broke my arm. They gave me Nicaderm (patch) and a muld anti depressant which worked for the 10 days i was there. But as soon as i wad back home i slowly went back. But i did keep the anti-depressants which help me slow down. Now i smoke about 10 cigarettes instead of 20. Good luck and i truly hear you that’s all we got left.

  3. Brad Schultz says:

    This condition requires a complete and holistic approach to treat and mitigate its symptoms. Cutting out toxins in our lives including smoking is a big part of it. Appropriate exercise is another part of it. I have found the Eastern Internal arts, such as Tai Chi and Qigong, offer effective strategies on how I can improve my health and energy in naturally effective ways. We can be in charge of our own health, and without the negative side-effects. I think we can learn techniques and principles to start to take charge of our own health. I’ve found some good holistic tips and techniques from the eastern arts here

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