What would we have done differently in our past if we only knew where we were headed?
Two recent studies have made me look back on my life and wonder whether I could have avoided getting multiple sclerosis if I had done things differently.
One study, to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s Annual Meeting in Philadelphia this week, adds to the body of evidence suggesting that adolescent girls who are obese are at increased risk of developing MS.
Another study, also to be presented at the AAN’s annual meeting, finds that women who had used oral contraceptives were at slightly increased risk of getting MS.
Well, gee. I was overweight, maybe even technically obese, when I was a teenager. And I used oral contraceptives for more years than I care to count.
The authors of the study about oral contraceptives are quick to point out that the increased risk they detected is relatively small – and they insist that their findings should not be read as discouraging women from using those medications. And the authors of the obesity study point out that not every obese adolescent girl will go on to get MS, nor (obviously) do all people with MS have a history of adolescent obesity.
Until we really know what causes MS, we’re all left to wonder why we ended up with this crazy disease. Who knows whether MS would have found me even if I had been slender all my life and never used the Pill? It’s really not worth speculating about; I can’t do a thing about it now, anyway.
But findings such as those of these two studies are incredibly valuable, as they add to our overall understanding as to how MS works. It’s clearly a complicated disease, and every little bit of information we glean via research makes an important contribution in helping to understand it better.
**Tune in throughout the week as the Society's research team reports live from the American Academy of Neurology’s Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.**