Lifestyle Factors Linked to Slower Progression in MS

Relapsing multiple sclerosis patients who drink alcohol/coffee and eat fish have slower progression

THURSDAY, March 29 (HealthDay News) -- There is an inverse association between the consumption of alcoholic beverages, coffee, and fish and time to disability progression in people with relapsing onset multiple sclerosis (MS), but not in those with progressive onset MS, according to research published in the April issue of the European Journal of Neurology.

Marie B. D'hooghe, M.D., of the National Multiple Sclerosis Center in Melsbroek, Belgium, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study involving 1,372 persons with relapsing and progressive onset MS to determine whether certain lifestyle factors, such as drinking alcoholic beverages or coffee, eating fish, or smoking cigarettes, influence disease activity in MS. The primary outcome was time to Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score of 6, which is reached when a person requires a cane or other support to walk a distance of 100 meters.

The researchers found that, compared with those who never consumed alcohol, wine, coffee, or fish, persons with relapsing MS who did consume these items had a lower risk of reaching EDSS 6. The risk of reaching EDSS 6 was increased for those with relapsing MS who smoked cigarettes. With the exception of type of fish, none of these factors were associated with risk for reaching EDSS 6 in individuals with progressive MS. Individuals with progressive MS who preferred eating fatty fish were at an increased risk of reaching EDSS 6 compared with those who preferred eating lean fish.

"Although our findings show a number of associations between consumption and disease progression, it is important that patients recognize that this does not imply that certain food and drinks provide a protective effect, as other factors may be involved," D'hooghe said in a statement. "Our study does, however, provide valuable pointers for future research as it reinforces the theory that different mechanisms may be involved in the progression of disability in relapsing and progressive onset MS."

Two of the study authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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