Earlier studies have indicated an association between multiple sclerosis and environmental factors, especially occupational exposure to solvents. The present study examined such relationships further. From medical files of hospitals in Kalmar and Jönköping, 91 cases of multiple sclerosis, diagnosed in 1983-1988, were identified from population registers corresponding to the catchment areas of the hospitals, and 348 referents were randomly drawn. The cases and referents answered a questionnaire concerning occupational exposure and animal contacts. The men had significantly elevated risks, determined from logistic odds ratios, for solvent exposure, occupational contact with dogs or cats, and leisure-time contact with caged birds. X-ray treatment and previous diseases were risk indicators among the women. For the men and women together, solvent exposure, radiological work, and previous diseases were associated with clearly elevated risks. Although the study concerned rather few subjects, the findings indicate that several exogenous factors might contribute to the development of multiple sclerosis.
Comment In: Scand J Work Environ Health. 1995 Apr;21(2):1507618061