Drinking alcohol appears to have a dose-dependent inverse association with the risk of developing multiple sclerosis, according to a Swedish study.
Researchers suggest their findings, published Jan. 6 on the website of JAMA Neurology, give no support to advising patients with MS to completely refrain from drinking alcohol.
The results of previous studies have been inconsistent about the impact of alcohol and the risk of developing MS, according to background information in the study.
Anna Karin Hedstrom, MD, of the Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, and colleagues investigated the association using two population studies in Sweden with participants between the ages of 16 and 70. The data came from 745 cases of MS plus 1,761 controls in the Epidemiological Investigation of Multiple Sclerosis study, and 5,874 cases of MS with 5,246 controls in the Genes and Environment in Multiple Sclerosis study.
In both studies, men and women who reported high alcohol consumption had a statistically significant lower risk of developing MS compared with nondrinkers.
Alcohol consumption also appeared to be associated with the lessening of the detrimental effect of smoking on MS risk.
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, the authors concluded.