Friday, June 1, 2012

Long-Term Smokers Have Reduced Risk of Parkinson's

Here's an article a friend sent me awhile ago. In view of the current news about tobacco-industry lobbying, I think it deserves consideration. IMHO, the executives of the tobacco companies are terminally stupid for not doing their own scientific studies right from the start.

<(March 11) -- In the heyday of cigarette smoking, a pack a day was "just what the doctor ordered." Of course, the purported health benefits of smoking have been largely debunked, and cigarettes today are associated with serious health hazards. But smoking may still have at least one advantage: protection against the development of Parkinson's disease. A large-scale study published in Wednesday's online edition of the journal Neurology further bolsters the connection and concludes that the longer you smoke, the less likely you are to develop the illness. In 2007, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health analyzed 11 separate studies and concluded that cigarette smoking protected against Parkinson's but that benefits waned once a smoker quit. But the effect was a strong one: Smokers were 73 percent less likely to suffer from Parkinson's than those who'd never lit up. The latest study, while showing less dramatic results, offers a larger sample of subjects and could yield new clues about the mechanism by which cigarettes improve the brain's resiliency to Parkinson's. A team at the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences examined 305,000 men and women over age 50. At a 10-year follow-up, half of 1 percent of the study's participants had developed Parkinson's. More years of smoking were associated with less risk. Those who smoked for less than a decade had a 4 percent lower risk than nonsmokers, compared with a 41 percent reduced risk among participants who'd been lighting up daily for more than 30 years. The number of cigarettes smoked didn't appear to have any effect. The study's lead researcher, Dr. Honglei Chen, said he doesn't foresee tobacco or other cigarette ingredients being considered as potential treatments for Parkinson's. But the information "could guide the development of studies on various tobacco components ... to help understand the relationship between smoking and Parkinson's disease," he told Health Day. Further research could determine which chemicals are responsible for bolstering the brain against the illness, which targets the central nervous system and causes dozens of symptoms, of which physical tremors are the most obvious. The cause of Parkinson's still eludes researchers, but some suspect exposure to environmental toxins is to blame. One study of 143,000 adults concluded that those who'd been exposed to heavy doses of pesticides were 70 percent more likely to develop the disease. The new research is good news for ongoing efforts to better understand Parkinson's disease. But the cons of smoking still outweigh the pros, so the study's authors are advising against lighting up as a preventive measure. Filed under: Nation, Health>

...Y'know, I can make a suggestion to those researchers. Remember what I said in an earlier post about nicotine turning into nicotinic acid when it's oxydized/burned? *Sigh* What annoys me about modern scientific research is that not only does the left hand not know what the right hand doeth, but the thumb isn't sure what the fingers are up to.

--Leslie <;)))>< )O(


They are not aware said...

Honestly, if smoking tobacco did not have medicinal value then I doubt that humans would have started smoking it. It is also highly addictive (like many other medicines) and has bad side-effects. I would be happy if I smoked two to three a day--that seems like about the right amount--I wish I could maintain that; but no such control here.

Antongarou said...

Does alcohol have a medicinal effect when you drink it?How about the various halucinogenic mushrooms?

Medicinal effect is not necassary for humans to start using something, and continuing to do so for a long time. It is only necessary that it make them feel better for a short time and have no visible short term bad effects- longer term effects where hard to determine before we started doing methodic long term studies.

windmills said...

"Does alchohol have a medicinal effect when you drink it? How about the various halucinogenic mushrooms?" -Antongarou

Umm... yes, actually, to both. Putting aside arguments about antioxidants and whether my daily glass of whiskey is better or worse than your daily prozac... tobacco, mushrooms, peyote, et. all were widely prescribed by early doctors when all maladys were considered spiritual. Also, many drugs are so much fun that our Government, in their extreemly finite wisdom, have forbidden doctors and chemists from even researching their potential medicinal uses. I dated a girl I swear would have set off car-bombs if the gov't tried to keep her from having an abortion, but most Americans seem fine with their government telling them what drugs they may or may not use. Something wrong there.

All that said, and I wish desperately I didn't smoke, my cynical little voice suggests that long-term smoking probably reduces risk of a great many diseases... mostly those associated with old age.

Antongarou said...

The same doctors used to perform exorcisms and recommend blood letting. The fact that alcohol and other things have been prescribed is not a proof that they're effective without research to back that prescription.

As to the government... I don't know about the US, but over here there are labs that have license to use varius drugs that are otherwise illegal in their research- I know of several that have cocaine and heroin.

Leslie Fish said...

Hi, all. Here in the US, official anti-drug hysteria has reached the ridiculous point. Despite several states that have looked at the evidence and legalized medicinal use of marijuana, the federal govt. still runs around raiding dispensaries and arresting patients, not to mention quashing any research that doesn't say "marijuana is eeevil". It would have become a national scandal if we didn't have so many other scandals in line ahead of it.

--Leslie <;)))>< )O(

Anonymous said...

There are reasons, Leslie, why I refer to the government as "the mindless Moloch," or "the nightmare abomination from beyond the stars"---when I'm feeling friendly toward it.

When I am not feeling friendly toward it, my comments are quite a bit less laudatory and gentle.

windmills said...

Ravenclaw-Eric, We should hang out. Play chess? Like cognac?

Prof. Godel Fishbreath, Otter said...

Long term smokers have vastly increased chance of dying of whatever killed Lenord Nimoy (spock's actor, spelling is not best)