Smokers face heightened risk of seizures

Washington, Nov 20 ( Smokers face heightened risk of seizures, says a new study.

It is the first study to examine potential risks associated with smoking, caffeine intake, and alcohol consumption as they independently relate to epilepsy.

Epilepsy is a condition characterised by repeated unprovoked seizures where electrical disturbances in the brain cause sudden convulsions and muscle spasms and sensory awareness.

Significantly, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Harvard Medical School also found that long-term, moderate intake of caffeine or alcohol does not increase the chances of a seizure or developing epilepsy.

Barbara A. Dworetzky of BHW and colleagues used data obtained from the Nurses’ Health Study II, a group of 116,608 female registered nurses, aged 25-42 years old who returned mailed questionnaires on their lifestyle and medical history including epilepsy and seizure activity.

“Our analysis showed risk of seizure was significantly higher for current smokers, but not related to the amount of cigarettes smoked daily,” said Dworetzky. “It does appear, however, that the number of years of smoking does increase seizure risk.”

Approximately 2.5 million Americans are affected by epilepsy with 150,000 new cases diagnosed this year alone, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said a BWH release.

These findings are slated for publication in the February 2010 issue of Epilepsia.