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Longtime smoking cuts Parkinson’s risk dramatically

Posted: 04:28 PM ET

By Matt Sloane
CNN Medical Producer

It's a catchy headline – smoking cuts Parkinson's risk dramatically – and it appears to be true, but researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Science don't want you to start smoking.

"Nobody should advocate smoking to prevent Parkinson's disease," said Dr. Honglei Chen, a tenure-track investigator at the Institute. "It’s important to make that very, very clear."

The study, released today in the journal Neurology looked at the lifetime smoking history of more than 300,000 people, and confirmed the inverse relationship between smoking and Parkinson's disease, established in earlier scientific studies. But, researchers say they've found a critical new piece to the puzzle: It appears to be the length of time one has been a smoker – not the number of cigarettes smoked – that has the most effect on disease risk reduction.

"People who smoked more than 40 years had a 46 percent decrease in Parkinson's disease risk," said Chen. "Whereas people who smoked between one and nine years had only an 8 percent decrease in risk."

Chen, the lead study author, and his colleagues cannot yet identify the reasons behind this staggering link, but say when they are able to determine which chemicals in the cigarettes seem to be have a protective effect, they hope to be able to develop a drug that can mimic the effects of smoking, without the harmful risks.

"I think the findings are very important, but it is time now for scientists to search for the active chemicals, and to understand biological mechanisms."

Smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and has been linked to an increase in heart-disease risk, stroke risk, and several types of cancers.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.

Anyone want to make an educated guess about this physical response to longtime smoking?

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caffeine may cut risks of parkinson's......

Brest cancer low for smokers' wives............

This scientific report was dated 1999. Do you think that there have been any changes since then?

Women and Smoking Website

International Journal of Epidemiology | Effects of husbands' smoking on the incidence of lung cancer in Korean women

Inconsistencies in Conclusions: The American Health Foundation in New York, found that women who smoke are more likely to have lung cancer and heart attacks than men who smoke. (Living Fit magazine, Jan./Feb. 1997)

American Journal of Epidemiology | Association of Passive Smoking by Husbands with Prevalence of Stroke among Chinese Women Nonsmokers


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