Stress and Abuse Not Linked to Multiple Sclerosis

Stress at home, physical or sexual abuse not found to increase multiple sclerosis risk

TUESDAY, May 31 (HealthDay News) -- Stress at home in adulthood and physical or sexual abuse in childhood or adolescence are not associated with the development of multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study published in the May 31 issue of Neurology.

Trond Riise, Ph.D., from the University of Bergen in Norway, and colleagues investigated the association between stress and the risk of developing MS. Two cohorts of female nurses were included in the study; 121,700 participants from the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) who were followed up from 1976, and 116,671 participants from NHS II who were followed up from 1989. After adjusting for variables, the risk of MS for NHS participants was studied prospectively from the self-reporting of general stress at home and at work in 1982. The effect of physical and sexual abuse in childhood and adolescence was estimated retrospectively using data from the NHS II collected in 2001. MS was identified in 77 participants from the NHS group by 2005 and in 292 participants from the NHS II cohort by 2004.

The investigators found that the NHS group did not have an increased risk of MS correlating with severe stress at home. In the NHS II cohort, nurses reporting severe physical abuse in childhood or adolescence, or those repeatedly subjected to forced sexual activity in childhood or adolescence did not have a significantly increased risk of MS.

"The results of this study do not support a major role of stress in the development of the disease," the authors write.

One of the study authors disclosed a financial relationship with the pharmaceutical industry.

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