An attention seeker is demanding that her picture appears on cigarette packets as a warning to other smokers that the really quite rare thing she has will affect each and every one of us.
She smoked twenty a day from the age of 13 to 31, is now over 40 and still has Buerger’s disease. Keep that in mind for later.
I had never heard of it, so looked it up.
The classic Buerger’s Disease patient is a young male (e.g., 20–40 years old) who is a heavy cigarette smoker. More recently, however, a higher percentage of women and people over the age of 50 have been recognized to have this disease.
It’s primarily a young man thing then, although it is not confined to young men.
Buerger’s disease is most common in the Orient, Southeast Asia, India and the Middle East, but appears to be rare among African–Americans.
I guess we honkies are somewhere in the middle as far as prevalence goes. This does suggest a primary genetic cause though, an inherited predisposition. Coupled with its main target being 20-40-year-old men, it seems to act along similar lines to things like testicular cancer. Not that it has any relation to any cancer, just a similar pattern to that one.
Basically, if you are outside the group of 20-40-year-old men, your risk of this disease is very low, but not zero. The only way to have a zero risk of any kind of disease in any part of your body is to not have that part of the body. Men can get breast cancer despite not having much in the way of breasts (speaking for myself anyway). Men have a zero risk of cervical cancer because we don’t have one.
There is no known cause of Buerger’s disease but fair enough, it does seem to be triggered by heavy smoking and to primarily target men. I doubt there has been, or will be, much research going on since it’s very rare and besides, as far as the medics are concerned, ‘they are only smokers’.
From the clues so far I would be looking for an X-chromosome anomaly that sets up a circulatory problem when triggered by something in smoke. I would not be confining myself to tobacco smoke and certainly not to nicotine – there are far more risky things in all kinds of smoke.
If you found the link then you’d be able to sell a test for smokers. At enormous profit. Wouldn’t you want to know, if you smoked, whether you had the gene for this disease? I certainly would. Lung cancer and all the rest are pretty much a lottery whether you smoke or not but here we have a very nasty disease which is highly likely to be triggered by smoking – if you are susceptible. If you are, stop smoking right now. If not, well that’s one risk you don’t have to worry about.
It would have to be kept out of the hands of the NHS and other politically motivated quacks, otherwise every smoker would mysteriously test positive. They wouldn’t even do the test. They’d just wait a week and send the scary letter.
It’s all just a thought though. Nobody is going to fund research that will specifically help smokers in this current world.
So if you are ever diagnosed, what can you do?
It is essential that patients with Buerger’s disease stop smoking immediately and completely. This is the only treatment known to be effective in Buerger’s disease. Patients who continue to smoke are generally the ones who require amputation of fingers and toes.
The only way to prevent the progression of the disease is to abstain from all tobacco products.
It seems clear then that this disease has a genetic component that is triggered by exposure to tobacco. Incidentally, it seems to be triggered by chewing it too so we can forget the smoke. It’s something in the leaf – possibly even taken in by skin contact.
As soon as the patient stays away from all tobacco products, the progression of the disease halts. Those who stop smoking early on don’t end up as amputees and the disease does not get any worse. The article doesn’t say how much, if any, recovery there is from previous damage.
So, the woman in the article stopped smoking ten years ago and had her first amputation three years later. Yet stopping smoking – removing the trigger for the disease – should have halted its progress. Ten years on and she is still worried that she could still lose her arms. Why is this? Was this not explained by her doctors?
Buerger’s disease can be mimicked by a wide variety of other diseases that cause diminished blood flow to the extremities. These other disorders must be ruled out with an aggressive evaluation, because their treatments differ substantially from that of Buerger’s Disease
Could the NHS have possibly misdiagnosed this one? Could they have decided that, because she was a smoker, she absolutely must have a smoking related disease and not one of the many non-smoking-related ones? If it is Buerger’s then the only effective way to stop it is to stay away from tobacco. If the patient does this then the progress of the disease stops. No other treatment is available so no other treatment would be applied.
If it is something else, then the tobacco could well be irrelevant. I suppose the question really is… would a doctor have sacrificed a patient to get an antismoking message across? Scary thought, that one.
A far less scary thought is one where you get royalties for the use of your image on cigarette packets forever. I think I’d have come up with that one in less than seven years although I wouldn’t have done it. Being immortalised as an ignored graphic on a discarded fag packet does not appeal, even though taking money out of the antismoking budget certainly does.
They’d pay you for your image to put people off buying cigarettes even though nobody can see the image until they have bought the cigarettes – and at the price, nobody is going to just throw them away. Money for nothing, indeed.
I’m not worried about Buerger’s disease. I’ve been in contact with tobacco for a very long time so if it was going to trigger something, it would have triggered it by now. There are still the later-in-life risks but having read all those reports on care homes for the elderly, frankly I’d be better off drinking myself to death and being found soiled and smiling in a ditch somewhere.
With every body part utterly worn out and the ones that still work eaten by foxes before the Dismantlers find me.
I suppose they’d then put my picture on whisky bottles.