Smoking and Graves'
and Graves' Disease
"I quit smoking in 1994 and was diagnosed shortly
thereafter with Graves' disease. A friend of mine quit smoking in
May of last year and was diagnosed shortly thereafter with Graves'
disease. . . any research on the connection? I know that episodes
of blindness due to Graves' disease are much more prevalent among
smokers, but the timing of our diagnoses and stopping smoking leaves
us both with a big question." -- JF, Tujunga, CA.
Studies released in the 1990s well established that smokers are
more likely than non-smokers to get Graves' disease, that patients
with Graves' disease who smoke are more likely to have ophthalmopathy,
and that their ophthalmopathy is more likely to be severe. Patients
with Graves' disease have a 4- to 14-fold increased risk of ophthalmopathy.
In one study, patients who had quit smoking before getting Graves'
disease did not have worse ophthalmopathy than current smokers,
even if they had smoked as many packs over their lifetime as the
current smokers. While none of these studies specifically address
the situation you describe, they suggest that quitting smoking reduces
the risk, and that the timing of your friend's and your Graves'
disease was a coincidence.
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