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.

10 thoughts on “Buergered.

  1. “…would a doctor have sacrificed a patient to get an anti-smoking message across?”

    Ouch. That’s a pretty damning conjecture L-I. And yet, the scary thing is it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility. These people do seem to think they’re fighting a crusade.
    What’s the classic line? “Kill them all. God will know his own.”



    • Harold Shipman was a doctor. There have been quite a few others along his line of reasoning. ‘Can’t cure ’em, the only sensible thing is finish ’em off’. Next they want to legalise doctor-patient murder. All the while moaning about how much this or that ‘costs the NHS’.

      In Westminster eyes, we are cost units. All of us. Smoker or not, drinker or not, fat or thin. Everyone gets ill at some point and becomes a ‘burden on the NHS’. So if they have a way to remove the cost by simply putting people on the Stairway to Liverpool or – with the new idea – putting them down like sick old dogs, then they will.

      Would a doctor have set up a propaganda coup by sacrificing a patient? I am certain some of them would.

      I am also certain that most would not – but how do you tell? The demons don’t have horns in the real world.


  2. I have no particular expertise in this, but from what I have read, there seem to be two serious genetic conditions in particular that seem to be manifested much more among smokers. One is Buerger’s Disease with a general incidence rate of about 16 in 100,000, and the other is Alpha -1 Antitrypson Deficiency at about 25 in 100,000.

    Click to access Prevalence_of_rare_diseases_by_decreasing_prevalence_or_cases.pdf

    Buerger’s screws up the circulation to extremities and likely the decreased oxygen in the blood from heavy smoking or the vasoconstriction from nicotine combine with it to produce such low blood flow to the limbs that people can lose fingers, toes, or more. A-1A encourages the development of COPD, with sufferers, *even nice nonsmokers!* tending to get hit with pronounced emphysema-type symptoms at pretty young ages. Smoking makes it worse, (e.g. you might be on an oxygen bottle at 30 instead of 40 or 50) but my sense from what I’ve read is that anyone who has it is pretty doomed to a problem before they get very old. A-1A *ALSO* hits the liver, and, although I haven’t read enough about it to know for sure, I’d guess that people suffering from it who drink heavily are probably in at least as bad, if not worse, shape than those who smoke heavily.

    IDEALLY… if it wasn’t for the crapped up faith in medicine that the Antismokers have brought us, kids could be tested in middle school for these two things (I don’t know if there’s a genetic test specifically for Buerger’s yet though.) and then those who test positive could be told, “Look, bad luck, but YOU really DO need to not drink or smoke.” the same way someone with various other conditions would be told not to drive, skydive, eat sugar, etc etc. AND… in such a non-crapped up world, the kids would believe the doctors and for the most part go along with the prescription.

    Unfortunately, the distortion of medical science for propaganda purposes has left us with a world where EVERYONE is being told, “Don’t do this and don’t do that….” so when people really SHOULD walk the straight and narrow they don’t listen: they figure it’s just more of the same “Be Good!” rigamarole everyone is hearing.

    One of the “unintended consequences” of the antismoking campaigns.

    – MJM


    • One of many ‘unintended’ consequences!

      There are a lot of genetic issues that predispose people to particular diseases if they are in contact with the environmental trigger that sets it off. If you know you have the gene, you can avoid the trigger. Sometimes that’s easy and sometimes not, but if you’re aware of the danger then you know the risk.

      Unfortunately for many people, they are told that smoking ’causes’ the problem when really it’s just the trigger for a problem that was already there. If only medicine and politics were honest. Then they could tell these people what to avoid, rather than just playing the tyrant eugenecists.


  3. LI, I had heard of Buerger’s disease and noted it’s similarities to Raynaud’s Phenomenon, so I looked it up again.

    “Ms Marks was 26 when she first suffered pain in her legs and swelling in her ankles but she put it down to long shifts and being on her feet all day behind the bar.”

    Buerger’s Disease

    “There are various other things that you can do if you are diagnosed with Buerger’s disease. They include the following –

    “Avoid sitting or standing in one position for long periods”

    “The mother-of-four gave up ten years ago when she was 31, but by then had developed a rare and devastating form of thrombosis called Buerger’s disease.”

    So apart from anything else she stopped inhaling extra nitric oxide and carbon monoxide.

    How Nitric Oxide Maintains Health

    “In the heart, nitric oxide is the body’s way of protecting against cardiovascular disease,” Ignarro said. “The arteries make nitric oxide to lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to organs because it is a vaso-dialator, which means it widens or relaxes the arteries so that more blood can flow through, therefore lowering the pressure within the arterial system.”

    Now bear with me

    Effect of nitric-oxide-generating system on microcirculatory blood flow in skin of patients with severe Raynaud’s syndrome: a randomised trial.


    Patients with Raynaud’s syndrome have abnormal digital vasoconstriction, which may be secondary to impaired synthesis of, or impaired sensitivity to, nitric oxide. We studied the effect on microcirculation of a nitric-oxide-generating system applied topically to the finger and forearm of healthy volunteers and patients with primary Raynaud’s syndrome.

    It worked

    “Buerger’s disease causes inflammation of blood vessels in legs and arms, particularly in hands and feet. It leads to narrowing and blockage of the blood vessels so that blood flow to hands and feet is reduced.”

    “Raynaud’s phenomenon is characterized by transient reduction in blood supply through the small arteries in the hands and feet. Severe Raynaud’s phenomenon can cause digital necrosis. It has been hypothesized that nitric oxide may have a role in Raynaud’s phenomenon. We report two cases in which oral L-arginine reversed digital necrosis in Raynaud’s phenomenon and two additional cases in which the symptoms of severe Raynaud’s phenomenon were improved with oral L-arginine.
    These reports suggest that a defect in nitric oxide synthesis or metabolism is present in Raynaud’s phenomenon”

    Buerger’s Disease

    “It can also cause the formation of small blood clots which can lead to complete blockage of the blood vessels. Because of the narrowed and blocked segments of the blood vessels, blood cannot pass as it normally does through to all parts of the hands and feet.”

    ‘Good’ Carbon Monoxide May Benefit Heart Patients

    “Although the gas is lethal in large doses, small amounts can reduce inflammation, widen blood vessels, increase blood flow, prevent unwanted blood clotting..”

    Did she use nicotine patches to quit?
    Raw nicotine is a vaso-constrictor which wouldn’t have helped the situation.

    The reason for the inclusion of Raynaud’s is because I’ve had it since I was a child, but I thought that I must have mostly grown out of it as I got older as I get it so rarely, until I started researching tobacco and the properties of combustion gases, it never occurred to me that I might be self treating.

    Naturally, now I think it could be positively dangerous for me to ever give up.

    As you often remark, without Anti-tobacco, I would never have found out.


    • Without Anti-Tobacco, most of us (me too) would still believe absolutely in the small range of plausible lung diseases they used to blame smoking for, and would never have looked into the issue at all.

      Since they now link it to everything, including inherited problems and bacterial infections, I for one no longer believe a word of it.

      Maybe it does cause some lung diseases but if it does, the real problems are now under a massive pile of totally unbelievable junk science. Well, I feel better just by not worrying about it any more so at least I don’t have the ‘nocebo’ effect now 😉


  4. My uncle almost lost his legs in his 40s due to smoking, so he gave up and had new veins inserted that had been taken from elsewhere in his body; his backside mainly, I assume.

    He seemed to be fine after that for the next 25 years, smoke-free – then he got lung cancer.

    Then the doctors got that all sorted and he was A1 again – then he got meningitis and died from that quite recently.

    Don’t know if the legs thing is genetic, but an old auntie I remember from the 70s (great aunt or great-great aunt) had lost one leg, but I can’t remember or wasn’t told how.


  5. How worried should you be?
    Not much!!!
    Incidence of thromboangiitis obliterans is 8 to 12 per 100,000 adults in the United States.

    Basically, 1 per 10,000.

    99.99% do not get the disease.

    Smokers have a 1/100th of 1% chance of the disease.


  6. All may be explained, LI

    Not so much an “attention seeker” as the beginning of a new campaign.

    Very briefly

    Smoking and Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)
    January 2014

    Buerger’s Disease (Thromboangiitis Obliterans)

    “There is an extremely strong association between the heavy use of tobacco and Buerger’s disease, with just 5% of patients being non-smokers”

    ASH policy recommendations includes

    “The risk of PAD to smokers should be included in Government anti-smoking campaigns to increase awareness of this serious condition.”

    Click to access ASH_190.pdf

    They also want pictures of gangrene and amputations put on cigarette packets as other countries have got them and that people should be told that their legs might get chopped off when they visit the doctors.

    And screening

    “in the light of new evidence suggesting the gender
    differences in risk of PAD are not as great as once observed, research should be conducted to evaluate the need to extend screening programmes to women who smoke or have ever smoked”

    Which might explain why this unfortunate lady has suddenly appeared in the Daily Mail.


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