Lifestyle-based modifiable risk factors in multiple sclerosis: review of experimental and clinical findings

Neurodegener Dis Manag. 2019 Jun;9(3):149-172. doi: 10.2217/nmt-2018-0046. Epub 2019 May 22.


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a lifelong inflammatory and neurodegenerative disease influenced by multiple lifestyle-based factors. We provide a narrative review of the effects of modifiable risk factors that are identified as being associated with risk to develop MS and/or influencing the future clinical disease outcomes. The emerging data regarding the beneficial effects of diet modifications and exercise are further reviewed. In contrast, obesity and comorbid cardiovascular diseases are associated with increased MS susceptibility and worse disease progression. In addition, the potential influence of smoking, coffee and alcohol consumption on MS onset and disability development are discussed. Successful management of the modifiable risk factors may lead to better long-term outcomes and improve patients' quality of life. MS specialists should participate in educating and facilitating lifestyle-based modifications as part of their neurological consults.

Keywords: MRI; alcohol; cardiovascular diseases; diet; exercise; intermittent fasting; multiple sclerosis; obesity; salt; smoking.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Multiple Sclerosis*
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Reduction Behavior*