Tremor is among the acute effects of nicotine exposure. Published studies have focused on smoking-related postural (static) hand tremor rather than kinetic tremor (tremor during hand use), and gender differences in smoking-related tremor have not been examined. In a group of adults who were sampled from a population (mean ± S.D. = 65.7 ± 11.5 years, range = 18-92 years), the investigator assessed whether the severity of postural and kinetic tremors differed in smokers versus non-smokers, and whether this difference was influenced by gender. Twenty-seven (9.9%) of 273 subjects were current smokers. Greater tremor was observed in smokers than non-smokers during a variety of activities (drawing a spiral, using a spoon, finger-nose-finger maneuver, all p < 0.05) and smokers had a higher total tremor score than non-smokers (5.15 ± 3.06 versus 3.41 ± 2.88, p < 0.01), even after adjusting for age, caffeine intake and other potential confounding factors. The difference between smokers and non-smokers in terms of hand tremor was more apparent in women than in men. In women, the number of cigarettes smoked on the day of testing was weakly correlated with the total tremor score (r = 0.17, p = 0.03). In summary, smokers had more kinetic hand tremor than non-smokers. This difference between smokers and non-smokers was more apparent in women than in men. These results suggest that smoking habits should be considered carefully in order to avoid over- or underestimating the effects of occupational and non-occupational exposures to other tremor-producing neurotoxins.
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