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Smoking increases risk of bleeding in the brain

Researchers in Finland have reaffirmed a link between smoking and bleeding in the brain. This is the result of a new study published yesterday in the journal ‘Stroke’. The bleeding which is known as subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) in medicine is a type of bleeding stroke that occurs under the membrane that covers the brain and is frequently fatal.

The researchers sought to clarify the factors involved when only one twin participant in the study, suffered from fatal bleeding in the brain and hypothesised that smoking—the most important environmental risk factor—could play a significant role. The study a 2010 study of nearly 80,000 twins from Denmark, Finland and Sweden, suggested that SAH had more to do with external risk factors and very little to do with genetic influence.

The ‘Medical Xpress’ reported that this study utilised health care data from the Finnish Twin Cohort, a national database of 32,564 individuals (16,282 same-sex, twin pairs in Finland) who were born before 1958 and alive in 1974, and followed for over 42 years between 1976 and 2018. Researchers identified 120 fatal bleeding stroke events among the twins, and the strongest link for a fatal brain bleed was found among smokers.

The Corresponding Researcher Ilari Rautalin, B.M., a sixth-year medical and Ph.D. student at the University of Helsinki in Finland, said, “Our study provides further evidence about the link between smoking and bleeding in the brain.”

Data collected from surveys included smoking; high blood pressure (diagnosis or use of antihypertensive medications); physical activity; body mass index (BMI); education; and alcohol use. Similarly, the participants were separated into two groups: smokers (occasional or current) or non-smokers (never and former). Current smokers were classified according to the number of cigarettes smoked per day: light, less than 10; moderate, 10-19; heavy, 20 or more. However, findings showed that heavy and moderate smokers had three times the risk of fatal bleeding in the brain, while light smokers had slightly less at 2.8 times the risk.

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