Tobacco smokers are more vulnerable than are non-smokers to Raynaud’s phenomenon, a discoloration of the fingers and toes because of excessively reduced blood flow in response to cold weather or emotional stress, according to a story in The Korea Herald, quoting neurologist Park Gi-deok of the Ewha Women’s University Mokdong Hospital.
“The chemicals in tobacco smoke harm your blood vessels,” the doctor said. “Smoking can really worsen the condition if you have Raynaud’s phenomenon.”
When a person develops Raynaud’s phenomenon, her fingers at first go white and cool. They then turn blue, purple or black in severe cases. They might also go numb.
In South Korea, 31 percent of those who have cold hands and feet suffer from Raynaud’s phenomenon, which tends to become more severe during the winter. It occurs most frequently among women in their 20s, 30s and 40s.
There are two kinds of Raynaud’s phenomenon. Primary Raynaud’s, which accounts for 70 percent of cases in Korea, has no apparent cause.
Secondary Raynaud’s, which can be more serious, is usually associated with an underlying disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, or eating disorders and physical traumas, including car accident injuries.