Smoking is correlated with brain atrophy and disability progression in patients with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS), according to results published in Neurology: Neuroimmunology & Neuroinflammation. Øivind Torkildsen, MD, PhD, and colleagues examined the long-term impact of smoking using MRI and clinical outcome measures in smoking and non-smoking patients with RRMS. The study included 85 treatment-naïve patients with recent inflammatory disease activity who participated in a 10-year follow-up visit after a multicenter clinical trial of 24 months. After 10 years, smoking—as defined by serum cotinine levels—was associated with reduced total white
matter volume and increased T2 lesion volume. When smoking status was defined by self-report, there was an additional association with decreased deep gray matter volume. Smoking was also associated with greater walking impairment on the log-timed 25-foot walk test after 10 years and a greater decline in attention scores. “The findings imply that patients should be advised and offered aid in smoking cessation shortly after diagnosis, to prevent long-term disability progression,” Dr. Torkildsen and colleagues wrote.