Alcohol and multiple sclerosis (MS) is an important issue. Could the two be linked? If so, exactly how?
I. The Study: Alcohol and Multiple Sclerosis
Researchers studied drinking alcohol and MS risk. There may be a time of higher risk for MS during adolescence. The researchers studied the drinking of youth age 15-19. The study chose Denmark because Danish teens have high drinking rates.
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.
Women drinkers had a much lower risk of MS This was compared to 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. Again, compared to male non-drinkers. But 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.1
II. Multiple Sclerosis
MS is a serious disease. The body’s immune system attacks its own nerves. This disrupts nerve signals. Thus, there are problems such as difficulty walking, poor coordination, fatigue, and vision problems. But there are many possible symptoms of MS. No two patients are the same. At the first sign of any symptom, see a doctor promptly.
Doctors don’t yet know why the body attacks its own nerves. But we do know that certain things can often trigger the symptoms.
Risk factors for MS include these things.
- Having another autoimmune disease.
- Vitamin D deficiency.
- Having close relative with MS.
A strange 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.
- Andersen, C. et al. Alcohol consumption in adolescence is associated with a lower risk of multiple sclerosis. Mult Scler J.