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Exposure to Solvent Linked to 50 Percent Increased Risk of MS

By jeremyc | July 5, 2018

If you’ve a genetic predisposition to multiple sclerosis (MS for short), your risk of developing it increases dramatically if you’re exposed to solvents, like varnish and paint, according to a new study.

In MS, the immune system attacks myelin, a protective sheath which covers nerve fibers. As a result of this attack on myelin, the communication between the brain and the body is disturbed. Symptoms of MS can vary from person to person, and so can their severity. Common MS symptoms are vision loss, impaired coordination, fatigue, and pain.

Confirmed risk factors for MS are ethnicity, sex, and genes. For instance, the incidence rate of MS is higher in women compared to men. Similarly, if you have a European ancestry, your risk of developing MS is higher compared to people of other ethnicity.

One can’t do anything about these three risk factors. However, in addition to these three, other identifiable—and controllable—factors are solvent exposure, high salt consumption, and smoking.

This new study supports the findings of previous studies, which too had suggested that unnecessary solvent exposure increases MS risk.

In this study, the researchers checked the data of more than 2,000 individuals with MS. They compared this data with that of a control group, comprising of nearly 3,000 people.

Blood tests were done to check if a person had a genetic predisposition to MS. Additionally, all subjects were requested to provide information regarding smoking and exposure to solvents.

The researchers noted that the risk of developing MS was 50 percent higher in people with solvent exposure compared to those with no exposure to them. The risk of developing MS became 7 times greater when people with genetic predisposition to it have had solvent exposure.


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