Call it a flimsy silver lining to a noxious blue cloud: Long-term smokers have half the risk of Parkinson's disease that nonsmokers do, according to a new report.
In 12,000 people studied, those who smoked the most—the equivalent of at least a pack a day for 60 years—had the lowest risk. And after smokers stubbed out their last butts, the protective effect faded.
Cigarette, cigar, and pipe smoking appear to offer similar anti-Parkinson's benefits, according to the report in the July Archives of Neurology.
Author Beate Ritz of the University of California, Los Angeles characterizes the amount of Parkinson's protection provided by smoking as moderate. "Never-smokers have about a twofold higher risk of Parkinson's disease than ever-smokers," she says.
However, because Parkinson's disease is fairly rare—only about 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the United States—and because smoking causes cancer and heart disease, "n