Alcohol and Multiple Sclerosis are Connected

I.   The Study: Alcohol and Multiple Sclerosis

Researchers studied drinking alcohol and multiple sclerosis (MS) risk. There may be a time of higher risk for MS during adolescence. Therefore, the researchers studied the drinking of youth age 15-19. The study chose Denmark because Danish teens have high alcohol consumption.

The study looked at 1,717 MS patients. Also, it examined 4,685 healthy blood donors. All participants filled out a long questionnaire. It asked questions about lifestyle and environment. Importantly, the analysts adjusted for potential confounders.

alcohol and multiple sclerosisThe study found a protective effect of drinking alcohol during adolescence and MS. Women drinkers had a much lower risk of MS compared with female non-drinkers. And this was true for light, moderate, and heavy drinkers. 

Male light drinkers also enjoyed a large decrease in risk of MS in comparison with male non-drinkers. However, men who were moderate or heavy drinkers had no change in MS risk.

The authors concluded that drinking alcohol during adolescence reduced the risk of MS. And that it did so for both men and women.

II.  Multiple Sclerosis

MS is a serious disease. The body’s immune system attacks its own nerves, disrupting nerve signals. Thus, there are problems such as difficulty walking, poor coordination, fatigue, and vision problems. However, there are many possible symptoms of MS. No two patients are the same.

Doctors don’t yet know why the body attacks its own nerves. But we do know that certain things can often trigger the symptoms. 

  • Smokingalcohol and multiple sclerosis
  • Stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Infections
  • Some medications
  • Heat

Risk factors for MS include being a woman, older, or white. Also having another autoimmune disease, a vitamin D deficiency, or having a close relative with the disease. Interestingly, a risk factor is living closer to the north or south poles. (For example, MS is twice as common in North Dakota than Florida. This may be because our bodies use sunlight to make vitamin D.)

At the first sign of any symptoms, see a doctor promptly.

III. Source

Andersen, C. et al. Alcohol consumption in adolescence is associated with a lower risk of multiple sclerosis. Mult Scler J., Aug 2018.

IV.  Resources

These resources deal with MS in general. They necessarily look at alcohol and multiple sclerosis.

What causes MS?

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) 

Alcohol and Health

Frankel D, et al.  Living with Multiple Sclerosis. 

Geisser, B. et al. Multiple Sclerosis for Dummies. Hoboken: Wiley & Sons, 2013.