Cigarette smoking, long linked to a growing array of adverse health effects, could increase risks for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), popularly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. WebMD wrote that a new study adds to existing evidence about the smoking-ALS link, noting that prior study results have either been conflicting or involved a small number of participants.
ALS, explained WebMD, is a neurologic disease that affects the brain and spinal cord’s nerve cells, which control much of the body’s muscles. In ALS, the diseased nerve cells can not speak to the muscles, which causes them to waste and become weak, noted WebMD. Over 5,000 people are diagnosed with ALS annually in the U.S.; there is no cure and there are limited treatment options, added WebMD.
For the study, the researchers looked at over one million participants and discovered that smokers’ current or former experienced a 42-44 percent increased likelihood of developing ALS versus people who never smoked the Toxic Substance. The cause for the disease remains unknown in almost 90 percent of the cases; however, said WebMD, environmental factors are believed to be linked to one’s risk of toxic injury with ALS.
The study looked at cigarette smoking and ALS links from five separate long-term studies that involved 1.1 million people; 832 developed ALS, said WebMD.
The study found that people currently smoking were 42 percent likelier to be diagnosed with ALS; former smokers experienced a 44 percent increased risk. In both groups ALS risks increased in conjunction with the ages at which the participants first began to smoke; the earlier the age, the greater the risk, said WebMD.
Although the researchers called for further studies, they believe that it is possible that the nitric oxide and other chemicals in cigarettes could damage neurons, and other hazardous chemical substances in cigarettes could generate free radicals that could damage cells involved in ALS.
Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in America, with cigarettes linked to some 443,000 deaths and $100 billion spent in healthcare costs annually. Also, second-hand smoke has been linked to a variety of health issues; contains over 4,000 substances, including over 50 known or suspected carcinogens; and is linked to many diseases in adults and children, such as sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, middle ear disease, asthma, coronary heart disease, lung and sinus cancers, sinus problems, mental problems, and hearing loss.
We also previously wrote that in addition to the many, many negative health effects linked to cigarette smoking, another study found stronger evidence linking cigarette smoking to colorectal cancer. And, another study concluded that just one cigarette can adversely affect young adults, increasing arterial stiffness in people 18 to 30 years of age by a surprising 25 percent. Stiff or rigid arteries can lead to cardiac issues because vessel resistance is increased and the heart has to work harder, which can lead to heart disease and stroke risk.
New research suggests that cigarette smoking creates damage in the body just minutes after a smoker inhales for the first time.