As crazy as this sounds, it appears to be true. Now this definitely does not mean one should take up smoking in order to reduce their risk, but from my perspective, as usual I am curious as to why? What exactly is it about smoking that reduces that causes this surprising side effect. Well before going on to think of possible reasons, here are the statistics. It has been found that:
- Current smokers were 44% less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than people who had never smoked.
- People who smoked in the past and quit were 22% less likely to develop Parkinson’s than people who never smoked.
- People who smoked for 40 or more years were 46% less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease than those who never smoked.
- Those who smoked for 30-39 years were 35% less likely to have the disease than nonsmokers.
- Individuals who smoked for 1-9 years were only 8% less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.
- The number of years smoking decreases risk, however NOT how much was smoked.
That last statistic is the one I find most interesting. Now my theories on this include two main proponents. The first is strictly chemical and has to do with the binding receptors in the mind that nicotine grabs onto. It could be possible that by activating those receptors, some changes occur which reduces risk. This would account for it being amount of years smoked and not number of cigarettes. (aka, amount of time receptors remain active.. not HOW active the receptors are)
My second theory has to do with the stress reduction factor that smoking provides. One can imagine that less stress yields less risk of disease.