Cigarette smokers are at significant risk for seizures..

November 28, 2009 - Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School conducted a prospective study to examine the potential risks associated with cigarette smoking, caffeine intake, and alcohol consumption as they independently relate to epilepsy. They observed no trend of increasing seizure or epilepsy risk with increasing caffeine consumption. Further results indicated that risk of seizures or epilepsy was not significantly different between heavy to moderate alcohol drinkers and alcohol abstainers. Barbara A. Dworetzky, M.D., - lead author - "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."

Epilepsy is a neurological condition characterized by repeated unprovoked seizures where electrical disturbances in the brain cause sudden involuntary convulsions and muscle spasms. Approximately 2.5 million Americans are affected by epilepsy, with 150,000 new cases diagnosed in 2009 alone. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that epilepsy accounts for $15.5 billion in medical costs and lost earnings. Single seizures or those provoked by alcohol withdrawal or other cause are even more common, occurring in up to 10 percent of the population.

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, who returned mailed questionnaires on their lifestyle and medical history. The data used in this study were obtained from 1989 through May 31, 2005. "Given the composition of the study group [91 percent Caucasian women], our findings may not apply to men, younger or older populations, groups with lower socioeconomic status or lower attained education, or populations with higher percentages of minorities," advised Dr. Dworetzky.

PAPER: A prospective study of smoking, caffeine, and alcohol as risk factors for seizures or epilepsy in young adult women: Data from the Nurses' Health Study II,
Barbara A. Dworetzky, Edward B. Bromfield, Mary K. Townsend, and Jae H. Kang, Epilepsia, February 2010, ABSTRACT..

Reference: Smoking and Seizures,, 11/27/2009.