Mon, Mar 27, 2017 | updated 10:02 PM IST

Smoking shortens lifespan of patients with terminal illness

Updated: Sep 22, 2016 13:08 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Sept.22 (ANI): A new research suggests that smoking may shorten the lives of those with terminal illness, such as ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).

ALS damages nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. These cells control many vital muscle functions, including speaking, swallowing and breathing.

Though no cure for this disease has been found, scientists have identified several risk factors, including genes, gender, age and underlying health issues.

For this study, researchers explored the link between tobacco and development of ALS.

They collected data on the smoking habits of 650 people diagnosed with ALS between 2007 and 2011 in northern Italy. They also looked at chronic lung disease (COPD) among these patients.

Nearly 19 percent of the ALS patients were regular smokers when they were diagnosed.

Researchers noted that 28 percent were ex-smokers and about 53 percent had never smoked.

44 of the ALS patients had COPD; half were former smokers. On average, patients with COPD had shorter lives than those without.

But smoking appeared to shorten patients' lives whether or not they had COPD when their ALS was diagnosed.

On average, smokers with ALS lived 21 months after diagnosis, compared to 27 months for ex-smokers. Those who never smoked lived the longest after diagnosis, 31 months, on average.

Researchers also said smokers were usually younger than others when their ALS was diagnosed.

The study authors, led by Dr. Adriano Chio, although cautioned that no firm conclusions about cause and effect can be drawn from their observational study.

The study was published online in The Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. (ANI)

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