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Multiple chemical sensitivity described in the Danish general population: Cohort characteristics and the importance of screening for functional somatic syndrome comorbidity-The DanFunD study

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BACKGROUND: Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) is characterized by widespread symptoms attributed to exposure to airborne chemicals. MCS is categorized as a functional somatic syndrome (FSS), and MCS cases often meet the criteria for other types of FSS, e.g. fibromyalgia. The primary aim was to characterize MCS regarding symptom triggers, symptoms, lifestyle and describe demographics, socioeconomics and lifestyle factors associated with MCS. A secondary aim was to examine the implication of FSS comorbidity.

METHODS: Data were derived from a random sample of the Danish adult population enrolled in the Danish Study of Functional Disorders (DanFunD; n = 9,656). Questionnaire data comprised information used to delimit MCS and four additional types of FSS, as well as data on demographics, socioeconomics and lifestyle. MCS cases (n = 188) was stratified into subgroups; MCS only (n = 109) and MCS with comorbid FSS (n = 73). Information regarding FSS comorbidities were missing for six MCS cases. MCS subgroups and controls without FSS comorbidities (n = 7,791) were compared by means of logistic regression analyses, adjusted for age and sex.

RESULTS: MCS was associated with female sex, not being in occupation and low social status, but not with age or education. MCS cases reported normal dietary intake and smoking habits and lower alcohol consumption. Additional associations were found between MCS and low rate of cohabitation, sedentarism, daily physically limitations, and poor quality of sleep. However, subgroup analysis revealed that these findings were primarily associated with MCS with comorbid FSS.

CONCLUSIONS: MCS was associated with lower socioeconomic status, physically inactivity and poor quality of sleep. Subgroup analysis revealed that several associations was explained by FSS comorbidity, i.e. MCS cases with no comorbid FSS showed normal rate of cohabitation and did not report physical limitations or difficulties sleeping. Overall, our findings emphasise the importance of screening MCS cases for FSS comorbidity both in epidemiological and clinical settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0246461
JournalPLoS One
Volume16
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)e0246461
ISSN1932-6203
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

ID: 63733232