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Chemical solvents, smoking and MS risk

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The combination of exposure to chemical solvents at work, having genes associated with MS and smoking greatly increases the risk of developing multiple sclerosis according to new research.

The Swedish study involved 2,042 people with MS and a non-MS control group of 2,947 people.  Participants were asked about their exposure to organic solvents, paint products and varnish in the workplace and also about their smoking habits. Blood samples were taken and tested for two genes associated with the risk of developing MS.

People exposed to solvents at over a period of time at work had a higher MS risk (an increase of 50%).  People who also had the two MS related genes were about seven times as likely to get MS. The combination of solvent exposure, having the genes and also smoking made people 30 times more likely to get MS.

The researchers suggest that the lung irritation caused by both smoking and exposure to solvents may possibly have a role in triggering MS.  Previous research has shown that smoking is associated with more active MS.

More references

  • Hedstrom AK, et al. Organic solvents and MS susceptibility: interaction with MS risk HLA genes. Neurology 2018 July 3. [Epub ahead of print] Summary

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