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Obese Women Age 18 to 20 Found to Have Over Twice the Risk of Developing Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

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A new study finds interesting information on the time of life that obesity may affect a woman's chance of developing Multiple Sclerosis. In studying data from 200,000 women over 40 years, researchers found that obesity in late adolescence and early adulthood (18 to 20 years old) doubled the chance of developing muliple sclerosis later in life. 

...a surprising finding was that the results showed a significant link to increased MS risk only from obesity during adolescence, but not during childhood or adulthood.

This was a follow-up study by researchers who had earlier established a relationship between low levels of Vitamin D and development of multiple sclerosis:

Since obesity is known to be linked with lower levels of Vitamin D, the researchers decided to investigate the link directly.

This is another of the many findings resulting from the (female) Nurses' Health Study series of self-reported data sets. Self-reporting, even among a clearly educated population, is considered a limitation, but certainly these studies have yielded many interesting results, and may contribute to unraveling the mystery of how multiple sclerosis develops. Also, as the National MS Society commented, this finding may or may not apply to men.

Obesity Linked to Multiple Sclerosis - Harvard Crimson

I did a quick read of the Nurses' Health Study overview and found an interesting tidbit at http://www.channing.harvard.edu/nhs/index.php/history/

Because certain aspects of diet cannot be measured by questionnaire, particularly minerals that become incorporated in food from the soil in which it is grown, the nurses submitted 68,000 sets of toenail samples between the 1982 and 1984 questionnaires.

Yet one more use for those toenails you lose in long distance running and roadskating, perhaps...dietary analysis.

For Nurses' Health Study II, times had changed and so had hormone ingestion, so...

A color booklet containing pictures of all oral contraceptive preparations ever sold in the United States was developed and mailed to participants with the baseline questionnaire.

OK. Enough trivia. The point here is, multiple sclerosis is receiving good attention in research studies, and some interesting hints are pointing to causes and possible treatments. Our fundraising must continue to help support research, education and advocacy efforts to improve the quality of life for those with multiple sclerosis, so they can begin to roll with us one day (as some with MS already have begun to do). And these findings may help with the push to address obesity among late teens by providing exciting exercise opportunities like roadskating from childhood on. We can attest that the youngest kids in the park are completely fascinated with inline skating, and even the cool teen hipsters can be caught wanting to skate. Let's help them get started early for a long life of safe and happy skating.


New York Daily News

[Multiple Sclerosis]


Nurses’ Health Study - Channing Laboratory
181 Longwood Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts 02115
United States
Phone: 617-525-2279
Fax: 617-525-2008
42° 20' 12.0876" N, 71° 6' 7.5204" W


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More on Study and Gaps in Knowledge at Younger Ages

I wanted to know a bit more and this article...


...gave more information about the study's findings.

I wondered why 18 to 20 (actually it could have been said 18 and 20). It turns out the self-reporting of the study is a significant factor in what can be claimed. Women (Nurses) were asked recall their body types and weight, "including weight at age 18 years, height and weight at baseline, and self-reported body type at ages 5, 10, and 20 years."

It's a shame that the years of the typical onset of puberty were not included, of course, but we have what we have, and it at least indicates that pre-pubescent children's weight may not play a facter in later onset of MS, but it is likely a factor in teens and perhaps among those in their twenties (this is all my supposition).

The article states more clearly some of the findings (short of me actually getting access to the original study in the Nov. 10 issue of Neurology):

The researchers found that the risk of MS for women who were obese (body mass index of at least 30 kg/m2) at age 18 was more than double that for non-obese peers (relative risk, 2.25). Also, having a large body size at age 20 was associated with a 96 percent increase in risk of MS. There were no significant associations discerned between body size at age 5 or 10 years and MS risk, or between body mass in adulthood and MS risk, the authors note, suggesting that weight during adolescence is critical in determining MS risk.

Encouraging teens to get involved in a healthy lifestyle (serving suggestion includes indoor and outdoor skating) is an important step we can take to avoiding more people developing MS in the first place, and hopefully this research can help us discover more about how the disease works and how to lessen its effects.

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Black and White Photo Audio Essay Walking Williamsburg Manhattan

While wandering through webs of post disease ruminations I found this, and I thought you might enjoy it as I did. With or without narration, it's an interesting piece, although it obviously relies on some of those fringe touristy places so we can say "I've been there" http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/nyregion/1-in-8-million/index.html#...

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