Why you shouldn’t smoke with AS
- Smoking is a strong risk factor for developing AS
After you have developed AS, smoking continues to affect your body and the course of your disease. Researchers have tracked bone changes in the spine over time in people with AS and found that the more people with AS smoke, the worse the damage.
Smoking can make your AS pain worse. People with AS who smoke report a lower quality of life because of worsening symptoms, like pain.
Smokers respond less well to anti TNF therapy than non-smokers. Researchers tracked treatment response to anti TNF in just under 700 patients between 2005 and 2014. Two thirds (62%) were smokers, and 38% were non-smokers. After one to two years of treatment, anti TNF was significantly less effective in smokers. Former smokers did not experience reduced effectiveness from the drugs. Although it’s not clear how smoking might impair patients’ response to anti TNF, it’s thought that smoking may trigger a rise in inflammation, increase pain by interfering with nerves, or starve tissues of oxygen.
- Smoking makes breathing worse. That’s an additional problem if your ribs are affected by your AS meaning you already find it difficult or painful to expand your rib cage.
- Smoking can decrease the benefits of exercising for AS. We always recommend people with AS exercise regularly but as smoking can reduce lung function and affect your cardiovascular system, you won’t get the full benefit of exercise until you quit.
- Smoking increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.