Several studies seem to have illustrated that incessant smoking could lead to diseases like lung cancer. But did you know that smoking may also add to the risk factors for developing multiple sclerosis? A new study claims that smoking may augment the threat of MS in people who also encompass certain established risk issues for MS.

The study includes roughly 442 people suffering from MS and approximately 865 people devoid of the disease from three studies namely the Nurses’ Health Study I/Nurses’ Health Study II, the Tasmanian MS Study and the Swedish MS Study. Study authors first wanted to find out if the volunteers appeared to have identified risk factors for MS, counting having an elevated level of antibody in the blood to the Epstein-Barr virus, or encompassing an immune-system-related gene known as the HLA-DR15 gene.

The study discovered that among those with high levels of the antibody to the Epstein-Barr virus, smokers seemed to have twice the chance to suffer from MS as compared to those who had never smoked. The same link was not apparently observed in those with low antibody levels. The threat of MS linked to smoking was supposedly not dissimilar in people with and devoid of the HLA-DR15 gene.

Study author Claire Simon, ScD, with Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, commented, “The consistency of an association between MS, smoking and the body’s immune response to the Epstein-Barr virus based on these three distinct, geographically diverse studies suggests this finding is not due to chance. This relationship may provide clues as to why certain individuals develop MS while others do not.”

In US, the average lifetime threat of developing MS is said to be around 1 in 200 for women and 1 in 600 for men. Among those with elevated antibody levels to the Epstein-barr virus, smokers may have up to a twofold augment in MS threat as opposed to non-smokers.

MS is claimed to be the most general non-traumatic disabling neurologic disease in the US among young adults.

The study was published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.