Researchers Identify Cigarette Smoking As An ALS Risk Factor


Cigarette smoking has been found to significantly increase the risk for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). This study from Pusan National University found that the intensity of smoking influences the risk of ALS. Researchers also found that there was a 14% increase in the likelihood of ALS among current and past smokers, and when adjusted to consider sex, age, education, and socioeconomic status, the risk was 12%. Female smokers are also particularly vulnerable, exhibiting a 20% higher risk for ALS and a 25% likelihood after adjustments.

What is ALS?

ALS is a neurodegenerative disorder that primarily affects the voluntary motor nervous system responsible for controlling voluntary movements like walking, talking, and swallowing. There is currently no known cure for ALS, but some treatment options can help slow its progression or control the symptoms. This article explains that finding out what causes this motor neuron disease is not very straightforward. Around 10% to 15% of people with ALS inherit it from family, but the remaining 85% develop it through a complex combination of factors. However, it has been suggested that one factor could be exposure to toxic environmental pollutants, such as chemical pollutants, metals, pesticides, and more. 

Quitting smoking can lower the risk of ALS. However, it’s often challenging due to withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and other factors. Here are some ways to reduce nicotine dependence and quit smoking:

How to quit smoking to lower your ALS risk


Smokers turn to regular exercise to help manage cravings, provide a distraction, and even prevent weight gain that can occur when quitting cigarettes. Physical activity can turn people’s focus away from thoughts of smoking, providing a healthy distraction. Exercising also helps manage and lower stress, which can be a trigger for those who smoke under pressure. 

To be consistent with exercise, it helps to find an activity that is fun and feasible. Walking, running, or cycling are easy ways to get the blood pumping and the mind relaxed. More vigorous or demanding exercises can be great for a stress outlet and a distraction from cigarette cravings. Martial arts is a holistic workout that can help enhance cardiovascular health and relieve stress, which are crucial for former smokers to improve. Visit this post to read more about martial arts and its benefits. 

Use smokeless alternatives

Quitting smoking cold turkey—or abruptly cutting cigarette consumption—may be difficult to manage for some due to cravings, withdrawal, and stressors that can increase the urge to smoke. Smokeless alternatives can help smokers curb cravings or reduce their nicotine intake, making quitting more doable. 

Newer products such as nicotine pouches offer smokers a pleasant tobacco and smoke-free experience while helping to manage cravings. To absorb the nicotine, users place a pouch under their lip for up to 60 minutes. The pouches featured here showcase various brands, including ZYN, VELO, and Rogue, that offer diverse flavors and nicotine strengths to cater to different preferences. Nicotine patches are also popular as they provide a non-oral delivery method that lasts up to 24 hours. By gradually switching to lower-dose patches over a period of eight to twelve weeks, you can be weaned off nicotine. Nicotine patches, like those from NicoDerm CQ, are approved for smoking cessation as a nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) product. To learn about NRTs, click here.

Look into quitting resources

There are many resources smokers can use for their quitting journey. Technology has increased the reach of these methods, allowing people to choose where and how they receive support and motivation. 

Quitlines are an easy and often free way to get connected to support. Smokers can gain access to counseling services and tips for quitting smoking. Mobile apps can be downloaded onto one’s smartphone or tablet, offering various methods for guiding smokers to quit. Some apps like Kwit allow smokers to track their progress to provide motivation or offer breathing exercises and strategies to cope with cravings. Artificial intelligence-powered chatbot apps like QuitBot can provide information, inspiration, and guidance on how to quit smoking. It also offers support in the succeeding weeks following the user’s established quitting date to avoid relapse. Read here to learn more.

Considering that there is a lack of treatment options for ALS, it’s imperative that people take action to avoid lifestyle factors that increase the risk of its development. Smoking cessation may help reduce its likelihood, and both current and past smokers should take action to quit or stay off of cigarettes. 

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