Reports say researchers have come up with another reason to stay away from cigarettes after linking smoking to skin problems in people with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Experts at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) found that smokers with the long-term autoimmune disorder faced an increased risk for skin damage and rashes.
The study's lead author Dr. Christian A Pineau, Co-Director of the Lupus and Vasculitis clinic at the MUHC, said: "Up to 85 per cent of people with SLE develop skin involvement at some point.
"Our study shows that the risk of skin damage such as permanent hair loss and scarring from skin inflammation is significantly increased in smokers. So is the rate of active lupus rash."
Dr. Sasha Bernatsky, study co-author and physician in the MUHC's Rheumatology Division, added: "However, smoking may interfere with the effectiveness of some medications used to control skin disease in SLE.
"This may be part of the reason why smoking heightens skin damage in SLE.
"Even in healthy people, cigarette smoke has both immediate and long-term effects on the skin, its blood vessels and on hair follicles."
She further said: "Exposure to tobacco promotes the release of cytokines - substances in the body that increase immune system activity and inflammation. In fact, some researchers believe that cigarette smoking is actually a risk factor for SLE in the first place."
The research has been published in a recent issue of the Journal of Rheumatology.