Smoking Cigarettes with Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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We all know smoking is bad for us. But did you know smoking may exacerbate symptoms of fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS)?

We have a handful of recent studies showing smoking makes FMS symptoms more severe:

  • One from the Mayo Clinic showed higher pain intensity, fewer good days, and more missed work;
  • A Turkish study linked cigarettes to more severe FMS symptoms as well as more anxiety and depression;

An older Scandinavian study showed significantly more pain and numbness, more severe symptoms overall, and more functional problems in smokers with FMS. (However, this study did not show a difference in tender-point count.)

In ME/CFS, the effect of smoking hasn't been scientifically measured. In both conditions, though, the role of oxidative stress is getting more and more of researchers' attention and evidence is mounting that it plays a key role, and possibly a causative one. (For a look at the latest research and what oxidative stress is, see: Oxidative Stress in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.)

In a nutshell, oxidative stress is caused by an excess of free radicals, which damage your health. Smoking is known to introduce a huge amount of free radicals to your system (as is second-hand smoke.) It also depletes antioxidants, which neutralize free radicals.

That means cigarette smoke puts you at high risk for oxidative stress. If oxidative stress is a partial cause of FMS and ME/CFS, it's not a stretch to say that smoking could be a major contributor to the development and severity of them.

So the bottom line is that you have more reason to stop smoking - or avoid second-hand smoke - than you thought.

Does that make it any easier to quit? Hopefully it'll up your motivation, but even then, it's still an incredibly difficult thing to break that addiction. Here are resources that can help, from's Smoking Cessation Expert Terry Martin:

For information on fighting oxidative stress, see: Antioxidants for Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

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