(HealthDay News) – Alcohol consumption is inversely associated with the risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS) in men and women, according to a study published online Jan. 6 in JAMA Neurology.

Anna Karin Hedström, MD, from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, and colleagues examined the correlation between alcohol consumption and the risk of developing MS using data from two population-based case-control studies. The Epidemiological Investigation of Multiple Sclerosis (EIMS) involved 745 cases and 1,761 controls, and the Genes and Environment in Multiple Sclerosis (GEMS) study included 5,874 cases and 5,246 controls.

In both sexes, the researchers identified a significant dose-dependent inverse association between alcohol consumption and the risk of developing MS. In the EIMS, compared with nondrinkers, women and men with reported high alcohol consumption had odds ratios of 0.6 and 0.5, respectively, for developing MS. In the GEMS study, the odds ratio for both men and women was 0.7. The detrimental effect of smoking was more pronounced among nondrinkers in both studies.

“Alcohol consumption exhibits a dose-dependent inverse association with MS. Furthermore, alcohol consumption is associated with attenuation of the effect of smoking,” the authors write. “Our findings may have relevance for clinical practice because they give no support for advising patients with MS to completely refrain from alcohol.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

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