The Connection between Systemic Lupus Erthematosus and Smoking

The results from a study that evaluated the side effects of smoking in people with systemic lupus erthematosus found they clearly experienced skin damage and rashes.

Researchers from the Candian-based McGill University Health Center (MUHC) have conducted a study evaluating the side effects of smoking in people with systemic lupus erthematosus (SLE), the results of which can be found on The Journal of Rheumatology website. The study results demonstrated that these people clearly experienced skin damage and rashes, which confirmed the researchers’ conclusions about SLE and smoking.

There were 276 people involved in the study, which assessed their demographic information, smoking history, disease activity, medications, and damage scores. Upon reviewing the data, the researchers learned that “current cigarette smoking was associated with total cutaneous damage… and with scarring,” in addition to active lupus rash.

“Up to 85 per cent of people with SLE develop skin involvement at some point,” said lead author Christian A. Pineau, MD, co-director of the lupus and vasculitis clinic at the MUHC. “Our study shows that the risk of skin damage such as permanent hair loss and scarring from skin inflammation is significantly increased in smokers.”

Although no cure has been found for SLE, there are drugs that can decrease the impact of its associated symptoms. However, Sasha Bernatsky, MD, study co-author, MUHC Rheumatology Division said that “smoking may interfere with the effectiveness of some medications used to control skin disease in SLE… This may be part of the reason who smoking heightens skin damage in SLE.”