Journal of Neurology

, Volume 260, Issue 7, pp 1778–1781 | Cite as

Association of smoking with risk of multiple sclerosis: a population-based study

  • Sreeram V. Ramagopalan
  • Joshua D. Lee
  • Irene M. Yee
  • Colleen Guimond
  • Anthony L. Traboulsee
  • George C. Ebers
  • A. Dessa Sadovnick
Original Communication


Genetic and environmental factors have important roles in multiple sclerosis (MS) susceptibility. Several studies have shown an association between smoking and MS risk. Here, in a population-based Canadian cohort, we investigate the relationship between personal and maternal smoking exposure and the risk of MS. Using the longitudinal Canadian database, 3,157 MS cases and 756 spouse controls were administered questionnaires on active and passive smoking history. Mothers of cases and controls were also asked about their smoking exposure during pregnancy. The MS cases were more likely to have smoked than spouse controls (odds ratio 1.32, 95 % confidence interval 1.10–1.60, p = 0.003). This association was driven by an excess of ever-smokers in male MS cases. No association was seen with maternal active or passive smoking exposure during pregnancy. Ever-smoking is associated with increased MS risk in males. Further work is needed to understand the mechanism underlying this association.


Multiple sclerosis Smoking Pregnancy Population-based 



This work was funded by the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada Scientific Research Foundation. The authors would like to acknowledge the assistance of the Canadian Collaborative Project on Genetic Susceptibility to Multiple Sclerosis (CCPGSMS) Study Group members, Maria Criscuoli, and Kevin Atkins for data collection and database management. [CCPGSMS Study Group Members: Vancouver, BC (V Devonshire, S Hashimoto, J Hooge, L Kastrukoff, J Oger); Calgary, AB (L Metz); Edmonton, AB (S Warren); Saskatoon, SK (W Hader, K Knox); London, ON (M Kremenchutzky); Ottawa, ON (M Freedman); Kingston, ON (D Brunet); Toronto, ON (P O’Connor, T Gray, M Hohol); Montreal, QC (P Duquette, Y Lapierre); Halifax, NS (T J Murray, V Bhan, C Maxner); and St John’s, NL (M Stefanelli)]. The authors would like to thank all patients and family members of patients who generously participated in this study. The sponsor of the study had no role in the design of the study, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation, writing of the report, or the decision to submit the report for publication.

Conflicts of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sreeram V. Ramagopalan
    • 1
  • Joshua D. Lee
    • 2
  • Irene M. Yee
    • 2
  • Colleen Guimond
    • 2
  • Anthony L. Traboulsee
    • 3
  • George C. Ebers
    • 1
  • A. Dessa Sadovnick
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Medical Research Council Functional Genomics Unit and Department of Physiology, Anatomy and GeneticsUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Department of Medical GeneticsUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  3. 3.Division of Neurology, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  4. 4.VCHA, UBC HospitalUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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