Smoking Ups Lupus Risk: Report
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Smokers are at increased risk of developing the autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus, according to the results of a recent study.
Lupus can occur in several forms, but systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)--usually referred to simply as lupus--is the most serious type. It is an incurable disease marked by inflammation and damage to tissue and organs throughout the body, including the joints, skin, heart, kidney and central nervous system. Lupus is an autoimmune disorder, meaning it occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's own tissue.
``The results of this study provide further evidence for smoking as an important risk factor for the development (of lupus),'' Dr. Najeeb O. Ghaussy and colleagues from the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in Albuquerque write in their report published in the Journal of Rheumatology.
``This is the first study showing an association between SLE and smoking in a predominantly Hispanic group,'' they add.
The researchers interviewed 125 patients with SLE and 125 healthy adults who were matched by age and sex to the lupus patients.
The investigators found that people who were current smokers were seven times more likely than nonsmokers to have lupus. Those who were former smokers were nearly four times as likely to develop lupus as never-smokers.
``It is not surprising that cigarettes might have some effect on autoimmunity, as there are at least 55 chemical factors that affect cell growth or viability in cigarette smoke including carbon monoxide, cyanide, hydrazine, hydroquinone and others,'' Ghaussy and colleagues point out.
``It is also possible that cigarette smoking may act in concert with other environmental triggers, such as infection, to initiate the autoimmune process,'' the authors add.