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Unhealthy Habits

Smoking can impact the risk of getting MS as well as the progression of MS. Alcohol affects the central nervous system.


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Currently there are no studies linking alcohol consumption to an increased risk of developing MS, but alcohol could affect you differently than someone who does not have MS. Symptoms like imbalance and lack of coordination, can temporarily worsen after even just one drink. Alcohol is also irritating to the bladder and will increase urinary urgency and frequency. It also depresses the central nervous system and can interfere with certain medications that are commonly used to manage MS symptoms.

Alcohol consumption can also increase your risk for other health conditions (comorbidities), like cardiovascular disease and certain cancers, which could worsen your MS. It’s important to discuss your alcohol consumption honestly with your healthcare team.


Smokers and individuals with passive smoke exposure (second-hand smoke) have an increased risk of developing MS. People who smoke will also progress to secondary progressive MS at a faster rate than non-smokers and have greater risk of increasing disability. The disease modifying therapies may not produce the same effect in those who smoke. 


You can make an impact on your MS if you stop smoking. Cessation of smoking will delay your time to transition to secondary progressive MS. The National Institutes of Health provides resources to help quit smoking. Visit or call 800-QUITNOW (800-784-8669).

Additional resources


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