Journal of Neurology

, Volume 261, Issue 9, pp 1677–1683 | Cite as

Smoking and multiple sclerosis: evidence for latitudinal and temporal variation

  • C. O’Gorman
  • S. A. BroadleyEmail author
Original Communication


There is growing evidence for the role of smoking in the aetiology of multiple sclerosis. We have expanded existing meta-analyses and further explored the roles of study design, gender, latitude and year of study with regression modelling. We have found a consistent association between smoking and MS with an odds ratio of approximately 1.5, with males at higher risk. This finding is independent of study design. However, latitude and year of study may have unexpected influence. Smoking appeared to confer a greater risk to females living closer to the equator than to females at higher latitudes. The effect of cigarette smoke exposure on MS risk may not be fixed over time, but could be increasing. These results suggest a threshold model of MS risk that includes a fairly constant genetic risk (for Caucasian populations) together with variable environmental risks which are dominated by vitamin D deficiency at higher latitudes and are more significant in women who have an intrinsically lower threshold for development of disease.


Multiple sclerosis Case–control studies Clinical trials/systematic review/meta-analysis Risk factors in epidemiology 



There was no source of funding for this article.

Conflicts of interests

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

Ethical standards

The manuscript does not contain any patient data.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of MedicineGriffith UniversityGold CoastAustralia
  2. 2.Gold Coast University HospitalSouthportAustralia
  3. 3.Department of NeurologyMayo ClinicRochesterUSA

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