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24-11-2009 | Smoking increases risk of epilepsy

24 November 2009
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A new study which will appear in the February 2010 issue of the medical journal Epilepsia has found that there is a significant risk of epileptic seizures among people who currently smoke cigarettes.

Even after adjusting for stroke, brain tumour, hypertension and other factors, a strong correlation existed.

While the number of cigarettes smoked did not seem to affect the risk, the more years a person had smoked for, the greater the risk.

This American study also observed the potential risks linked to caffeine intake and alcohol and found that long-term, reasonable intake of caffeine or alcohol does not enhance the chances of a seizure or developing epilepsy.

A major limitation to the study is that while the numbers involved were high (116,608 participants), it only looked at mostly (91%) Caucasian women from an upper income background with greater access to healthcare than women in the general population.

The authors believe that further study is needed to determine if there is elevated risk for seizures among other demographic groups e.g. men, groups with lower socioeconomic status or populations with higher percentages of minorities.

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