Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Confirmed: Snus Use Protective for Parkinson’s Disease

Investigators in Sweden, Italy and the United States report that “non-smoking men who used snus had a substantially reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease…”

The research, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology (abstract here), combined data from seven Swedish cohort studies involving nearly 350,000 men.  Subjects were classified according to tobacco use and diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease (an illness of the nervous system affecting movement) over an average 16 years of follow-up.

The principal results are impressive:

“Among never-tobacco smokers, Parkinson’s disease risk in ever-snus users was lower than in never-users (pooled [hazard ratio, similar to relative risk] HR = 0.41, 95% [confidence interval] CI 0.28-0.61, for the fully-adjusted model).  Current-snus use was associated with a lower Parkinson’s disease risk than former use.  In addition, there was evidence of dose-response relationships such that moderate-heavy amount (pooled HR 0.41, 95% CI 0.19-0.90) and long-term current-snus users (pooled HR 0.44, 95% CI 0.24-0.83) had the lowest Parkinson’s disease risks.”

The bottom line: Current snus use, not former use, was strongly protective against Parkinson’s disease, with more protection from heavier and long-term use.

This is not the first such finding.  In 2009, I discussed (here) research from the American Cancer Society showing a similar strong protective effect (Relative risk, RR = 0.22, CI = 0.07 – 0.67) (abstract here).  Further, Parkinson’s may not be the only nerve illness for which smokeless tobacco and/or nicotine use is protective.  Snus users have a significantly lower risk for multiple sclerosis than nonusers of tobacco (here).  Nicotine has been found to improve performance in people with mild cognitive impairment, and it may also benefit those with Alzheimer’s disease (discussed here).

The current study represents a new era in Swedish snus research.  It was conducted by the Swedish Collaboration on Health Effects of Snus Use, “which brought together Swedish prospective cohort studies with detailed information on tobacco smoking and snus use.”

In the past, the snus research field was dominated by investigators at the Karolinska Institute; they published a series of studies that featured obvious technical problems and contradictions, and routinely found significant, small risks.  I documented these flawed studies in professional journals and in my blog (here, here, here, and here).

It is my hope that the Swedish Collaboration, with investigators from multiple universities in Sweden and beyond, will produce valuable, unbiased research on the health impact of snus use.


Elaine Keller said...

My mother had a form of dementia caused by Lewy Bodies, the same proteins that cause the lesions associated with Parkinson's. From her 50s or 60s, she had a shuffling gait and in her 80s often would stop walking abruptly (almost pulling me over, since she was supporting herself on my arm), complaining that it felt like her feet were glued down. These are additional physical signs of Lewy Body Disease.

When I stopped nicotine altogether, I quickly developed severe cognitive impairments that did not resolve themselves until I resumed smoking. I was finally able to stop smoking by switching to vaping and then to nicotine gum. I had tried to stop smoking by using nicotine gum, but was not getting enough nicotine at that time. I theorize that my need for nicotine was lowered while I was vaping.

I will never give up nicotine unless and until science comes up with a cure or an effective alternative treatment for the diseases caused by Lewy Bodies. This would also assume that said treatment would cost no more than nicotine gum.

Rose said...

I think that the protective effect against Parkinson's is more likely due to the Solanesol in tobacco rather than the Nicotine.

Please forgive the huge post and the many links.

In brief.

Tobacco Smoke May Act as Antidepressant Drug

"The study found that the brains of chronic smokers had neurochemical abnormalities in the locus coeruleus that can be produced by repeatedly treating laboratory animals with antidepressant drugs, he explained."

"Specifically, long-term smoking appears to inhibit monoamine oxidase (or acts as an MAO inhibitor). Monoamine oxidase is the enzyme that metabolizes monoamines -- such as norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin, Klimek explained. The locus coeruleus produces norepinephrine. Drugs that inhibit monoamines are antidepressants."

Parkinson’s Inhibitor Fingered in Tobacco

"They ground up tobacco leaves and tested representative samples in a test tube to see if they inhibited MAO. From the fraction containing the most potent MAO inhibitor, they isolated a chemical known as 2,3,6-trimethyl-1,4-naphthoquinone."

2,3,6-trimethyl-1,4-naphthoquinone - vitamin k - solanesol

Solanesol: a review of its resources, derivatives, bioactivities, medicinal applications, and biosynthesis

"Solanesol, which mainly accumulates in solanaceous crops, including tobacco, tomato, potato, eggplant, and pepper plants, is a long-chain polyisoprenoid alcohol compound with nine isoprene units. Chemical synthesis of solanesol is difficult; therefore, solanesol is primarily extracted from solanaceous crops, particularly tobacco leaves. In plants, solanesol exists in both free and esterified forms, and its accumulation is influenced by genetic and environmental factors. Solanesol is widely used in the pharmaceutical industry as an intermediate for the synthesis of ubiquinone drugs, such as coenzyme Q10 and vitamin K2. Solanesol possesses antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and anti-ulcer activities, and solanesol derivatives also have anti-oxidant and antitumour activities, in addition to other bioactivities. "

A similar protective effect has recently been found in people who eat a lot of nightshade foods in which the nicotine content is tiny.

I am sorry that I've explained that so badly but I'm a gardener not a scientist.