People who smoke are more likely to have seizures than those who don't, says a new study by Boston-based researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
Barbara A. Dworetzky, M.D., 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.
In the analysis for cigarette smoking, researchers accrued 246 cases and 1,778,307 person-years of follow-up among 116,363 participants.
For the analyses of caffeine intake, there were 201 cases and 1,440,850 person-years of follow-up among 105,941 participants, and for the alcohol consumption analyses, 198 cases and 1,427,348 person-years of follow-up among 104,934 participants. The data used in this study were obtained from 1989 through May 31, 2005.
After adjusting for stroke, brain tumour, hypertension and other potential confounding factors, researchers observed a significant association between current cigarette smoking and risk of seizure.
"Our analysis showed risk of seizure was significantly higher for current smokers, but not related to the amount of cigarettes smoked daily. It does appear, however, that the number of years of smoking does increase seizure risk," Dworetzky said.
Epilepsy is a neurological condition characterized by repeated unprovoked seizures where electrical disturbances in the brain cause sudden, involuntary changes in body movements (convulsions and muscle spasms) and sensory awareness.
The study is currently available online and will appear in the February 2010 issue of journal Epilepsia.