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Smoking linked to shorter survival after diagnosis of motor neurone disease

Current smokers survived an average 1 year and 9 months after diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Italian study found. 
smoking

Current smokers survived an average of 1 year and 9 months after diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), an Italian study has found.

To examine whether tobacco might have a role in the development of motor neurone disease also known as ALS the researchers studied the smoking habits and evidence of respiratory disease (COPD) in 650 people diagnosed with ALS between 2007-2011 in a region of northern Italy.

Of those studied, 121 patients were regular smokers at the time of diagnosis, 182 had quit smoking before diagnosis, and 347 were lifelong non-smokers. Of the 44 patients who had COPD, 22 were ex-smokers.

Although the average survival of patients with COPD was shorter than that of those without, researchers said smoking seemed to be linked to

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Current smokers survived an average of 1 year and 9 months after diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), an Italian study has found. 


Researchers said it was possible that smoking could damage DNA,
leading to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Picture: IStock

To examine whether tobacco might have a role in the development of motor neurone disease – also known as ALS  – the researchers studied the smoking habits and evidence of respiratory disease (COPD) in 650 people diagnosed with ALS between 2007-2011 in a region of northern Italy. 

Of those studied, 121 patients were regular smokers at the time of diagnosis, 182 had quit smoking before diagnosis, and 347 were lifelong non-smokers. Of the 44 patients who had COPD, 22 were ex-smokers.  

Although the average survival of patients with COPD was shorter than that of those without, researchers said smoking seemed to be linked to faster disease progression, as well as how long a patient lived after diagnosis, whether or not they had underlying COPD. 

Current smokers survived an average of 1 year and 9 months; former smokers survived an average of 2 years and 3 months; and non-smokers lived for an average of 2 years and 7 months after diagnosis. 

The researchers said it was currently unclear how smoking might affect the development and progression of ALS, but one possible explanation was the potential for smoking to damage DNA. 


Calvo A et l (2016) Influence of cigarette smoking on ALS outcome: a population-based study. Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. doi:10.1136/jnnp-2016-313793

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