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Alcohol Consumption May Cut Multiple Sclerosis Risk

Update Date: Jan 06, 2014 06:52 PM EST

Drinking alcohol may decrease a person's risk of developing multiple sclerosis, according to a new study.

Scientists at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden found a dose-dependent inverse association between alcohol consumption and developing multiple sclerosis. They said the latest findings give no support to advising MS patients to completely avoid alcohol.

The latest study involved two population studies in Sweden. Participants were between the ages of 16 and 70 years old. In the Epidemiological Investigation of Multiple Sclerosis (EIMS) study, there were 745 cases of multiple sclerosis and 1,761 controls. In the Genes and Environment in Multiple Sclerosis (GEMS), there were 5,874 cases of MS with 5,246 controls.

Women in the EIMS study who reported high alcohol consumption had an odds ratio (OR) of 0.6 of developing MS compared with nondrinking women, and men with high alcohol consumption had an odds ratio of 0.5 compared with nondrinking men. In the Genes and Environment in Multiple Sclerosis (GEMS) study, the corresponding odds ratio was 0.7 for both women and men.

The findings also found that alcohol consumption seemed to decrease the effect of smoking.

"Although the effect of alcohol on already established MS has not been studied herein, the data may have relevance for clinical practice since they give no support for advising persons with MS to completely refrain from alcohol," researchers concluded.

The findings are published in the journal JAMA Neurology

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