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Exposure to solvents, smoking may increase MS risk among some workers: study

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Stockholm — Workers genetically predisposed to develop multiple sclerosis could face a greater risk if they are exposed to organic solvents or they smoke, a study recently published by the American Academy of Neurology shows.

Researchers examined data from 4,989 people – 2,042 of who were diagnosed with MS and 2,947 who were not. Participants provided blood samples for genetic information and answered questionnaires about their lifestyle.

Results showed that workers exposed to paints, varnishes or other organic solvents were 50 percent more likely to develop MS than those with no exposure. Participants with organic solvent exposure and a genetic vulnerability for MS were seven times more likely to develop the disease, and smokers exposed to solvents and MS genes were 30 times more susceptible.

“These are significant interactions where the factors have a much greater effect in combination than they do on their own,” study co-author Anna Hedström, from the Karolinska Institute, said in a July 3 press release from AAN. “More research is needed to understand how these factors interact to create this risk. It’s possible that exposure to solvents and smoking may both involve lung inflammation and irritation that leads to an immune reaction in the lungs.”

The study was published online July 3 in AAN’s journal Neurology.

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