Smoking May Exacerbate Lupus: Study
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A new study suggests that smoking may exacerbate systemic lupus erythematosus, an autoimmune disease that disproportionately affects women, particularly those of child-bearing age and of African or Asian descent.
Lupus can occur in several forms, but systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is the most serious type.
"This study gives yet another possible reason for SLE patients to avoid all contact with tobacco
and its products, that is, possibly preventing greater disease activity and poorer outcome" according to the report in The Journal of Rheumatology.
In the study, Dr. Najeeb O. Ghaussy and colleagues from the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in Albuquerque interviewed 111 lupus patients about their smoking habits.
had a "disease activity index" that was almost 50 percent greater than former smokers and people who had never smoked. This was true even after they controlled for other factors that influence the severity of disease, such as alcohol consumption, ethnicity, education level and income level, according to the report.
Lupus occurs when a person's immune system mistakenly attacks the body's own tissue. It is characterized by inflammation and damage to tissue and organs throughout the body.
The condition can vary widely in severity, manifesting as skin rash and arthritis or leading to damage to the kidneys, heart, lungs and brain to varying degrees. There is no cure.
"It is not surprising that cigarettes
might have an effect on the disease activity of SLE, as there are multiple chemical factors that affect cell growth or viability in cigarette smoke, including carbon monoxide, cyanide, hydrazine, hydroquinone, and others," Ghaussy and colleagues conclude.