A recent study suggests that smoking may further increase the risk of multiple sclerosis in people who already have other risk factors for the debilitating disorder. Findings in the study showed that smokers who have high levels of protein that protects against the Epstein-Barr virus were also twice as likely to develop multiple sclerosis compared to nonsmokers. The findings were published on the online edition of the Neurology journal.
According to Claire Simon of Harvard University, previous studies have suggested that smoking and the protein that fights against viruses in the body were independent risk factors. The said research looked into how the two may be associated with one another. "We found that that association was stronger in people who reported smoking compared with people who did not report smoking," said Simon.
Simon and colleagues conducted the study by analyzing the information taken from 442 people with MS and 865 people without the disease. The participants in the study were either part of the US-based Nurses Health Study, the Swedish MS Study or the Tasmanian MS Study. The team of researchers looked into the participants with potential risk factors for MS as well as those with a history of smoking. The researchers eventually found a consistent association between smoking, MS and the body’s immune response to the Epstein-Barr virus among participants coming from three distinct geographical regions.