Interesting results from two new studies suggest drinking alcohol may reduce the risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS). The data for the studies come from 1) the Epidemiological Investigation of Multiple Sclerosis (EIMS) that included 745 patients with MS (cases) and 1761 controls, and 2) the Genes and Environment in Multiple Sclerosis (GEMS) study that had 5874 cases and 5246 controls.
Both studies were set up to investigate the effect of various genetic and environmental factors on the development of MS. Previously, the effect of smoking on MS risk were published--showing that smoking increases, especially in those who also have a genetic predisposition
for MS. The current results show an inverse
dose-dependent link between alcohol consumption and MS risk.
the current analyses, if we compare drinkers with nondrinkers there is a
small increase in risk of developing MS in the nondrinkers, but there
was a clear dose response, and those with the highest alcohol
consumption had a reduction in risk of developing MS of about 50%. This
was similar in both studies." said the lead author.
The studies, however, didn't didn't look at patients who already had MS, so firm
recommendations on this cannot be made at this point. However, previous research has shown an
anti-inflammatory effect of moderate alcohol intake, and is linked to lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and possibly some autoimmune conditions, such as hypothyroidism, systemic lupus
erythematosus, and rheumatoid arthritis.
The protective effect of alcohol was also more noticeable in smokers. The alcohol seemed to take away some--but
not all--of the negative effects of smoking on MS risk.
Of course, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol is known to cause other
health issues, so moderation is the key here (as with everything else).
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Source: Alcohol as a Modifiable Lifestyle Factor Affecting Multiple Sclerosis Risk