Medical research – Effect of occupation on risk of developing MS: an insurance cohort study

Effect of occupation on risk of developing MS: an insurance cohort study

From the paper

The aim of this study was to estimate the occupational risks in relation to multiple sclerosis (MS). The immediate background for this research was our finding that there had been a high number of critical illness insurance claims by patients diagnosed with MS within the agricultural segment of a Danish pension fund.

PensionDanmark insures more than 300 000 members of the Danish Confederation of Trade Unions against critical illness. All members are insured, and all policies are identical. The total exposure is 3.3 million person-years.

During the 10-year period, 389 persons were diagnosed with MS. The crude incidence rate for men was 10.2/100 000; the corresponding figure for women was 16.1/100 000. We found signs of an overall effect of occupation on the risk of developing MS, and the high frequency found within the agricultural segment was attributed to dairy operators, who had an incidence of MS 2.0 times higher than the rest of the study’s population (95% CI=1.2 to 3.0).

Article summary

Article focus

  • To investigate the occupational risks of multiple sclerosis (MS) through its incidence among critical illness insurance policy holders.

Key message

  • Dairy operators had twice the risk of developing MS.

Strengths and limitations of this study

  • The large sample size of 3.3 million person years, and valid data on occupational groups. Furthermore, all MS diagnoses were confirmed by specialists in neurology.
  • We were only able to adjust our estimates for age and gender differences.