Alcohol consumption in adolescence is associated with a lower risk of multiple sclerosis in a Danish cohort

Mult Scler. 2019 Oct;25(12):1572-1579. doi: 10.1177/1352458518795418. Epub 2018 Aug 20.


Background and objective: Due to the possible existence of a vulnerable period of multiple sclerosis (MS) susceptibility in adolescence and because Danish teenagers have a high alcohol consumption, we investigated the association between alcohol consumption at ages 15-19 and the risk of developing MS.

Methods: A total of 1717 patients with MS and 4685 healthy blood donors filled in a comprehensive environmental and lifestyle questionnaire. Data were analysed by logistic regression models and adjusted for selected confounders.

Results: We found an inverse association between alcohol consumption in adolescence and risk of developing MS in both women (p < 0.001) and men (p = 0.012). Women with low alcohol consumption had an odds ratio (OR) of 0.56 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.47-0.66) compared with non-drinking women. The ORs were similar for women with moderate (OR = 0.49, 95% CI: 0.38-0.62) and high consumption (OR = 0.57, 95% CI: 0.38-0.84). Men with low alcohol consumption had an OR of 0.69 (95% CI: 0.53-0.89) compared with non-drinking men but no decreased risk was found for men with moderate and high consumption.

Conclusion: Alcohol consumption in adolescence was associated with lower risk of developing MS among both sexes.

Keywords: Adolescence; alcohol; epidemiology; multiple sclerosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Denmark
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / chemically induced*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult