Now they tell me!

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.**

 

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Jennifer

Jennifer LaRue Huget, Blogger

Jennifer LaRue Huget was diagnosed with MS in 2001. A freelance writer and children's book author, she lives in Connecticut with her husband, two teenage kids, and two brown dogs. Her website is www.jenniferlaruehuget.com.

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    11 Comments

  • Nina   Apr 28, 2014 3:50 PM
    I haven been diagnosed but i have all the symptoms its interesting what studies come up with now days i believe there is more to this disease than being overweight
  • Sharon Mintiloglitis   Apr 28, 2014 3:52 PM
    There will always be something for some to think of different causation. Please don't think about this too much. I have MS 20 years now. Was not overweight, never took oral birth control pills. I was athletic, ate right, etc. who know why?
  • fightback  Apr 28, 2014 3:58 PM
    Don't blame yourself for getting MS, just do the best you can to deal with it. I have never been obese, have never used oral contraceptives, and I am male. Go figure.
  • Brian   Apr 28, 2014 4:50 PM
    Well I am male so I never took "The Pill" and I ended up with MS. I will say I was on overweight teen. After my diagnosis my weight ballooned to over 350 pounds. Lol I say ballooned like I had nothing to do with it. Anyway in 2012 i began a juice fast and later ate a vegan diet. Since I have lost the weight and my MS is a non issue. I guess we are what we eat.
  • Kayla Woody   Apr 28, 2014 5:03 PM
    Me too. Skinny skinny til I was 30. I didn't take contraceptives. So must have been a short study. Diagnosed in 2000 at the age of 50. I believe I experienced symptoms as young as 8 y.o.
  • Elys Bank   Apr 28, 2014 5:30 PM
    I knew all those ice cream cakes and frat boys in college would come back to haunt me. But I always thought it would take the form of a scandalous failed bid for the State Senate...
  • Gerri   Apr 28, 2014 8:23 PM
    I didn't know I had MS until about 45. I had paralysis in my early 20's that has now been diagnosed as the beginning of my MS. Supposedly my MS began with a virus and mononucleosis. So yes, MS, is a complicated disease but if you live with a positive attitude and don't let MS take you down, you will be happier live longer and one day beat the disease. I don't believe obesity is a factor but know one really knows what all the factors are so we live in doubt. Just do what you have to do and not obsess about MS. God bless you and your family.
  • Jeff   Apr 29, 2014 10:31 AM
    Ok, I appreciate all these studies, and one day they may actually know why I have MS. But so far the only absolutely known causation for MS is you must be born (mostly human) and you must breath air. Anything else is just speculation. Maybe I did some things wrong (boy, did I do things wrong!). But the people that did them wrong right along with me didn't get MS. So obviously that, in itself, didn't cause it.

    Please keep these studies going; if nothing else they are very entertaining! When they know why then maybe they can solve this riddle. And maybe they can help those newly diagnosed. But the reality is I have MS, and no matter what caused it, I still have MS.
  • Brenda14  Apr 29, 2014 10:08 PM
    Studies are good, but you can't undo what you've done. Just look forward and take care of yourself the best you can. We will survive! And OK, I hope.
  • Avatar
    blackhippiechick  May 2, 2014 10:03 AM
    I got MS when I was 17, I'd never been on birth control. I was also very healthy, as I was a participant in the National Junior Olympics, in hurdles. I didn't "do" anything that I would have been told not to do, except listen to the doctors when I was advised to have my tonsils removed.
  • Avatar
    blackhippiechick  May 2, 2014 10:03 AM
    I got MS when I was 17, I'd never been on birth control. I was also very healthy, as I was a participant in the National Junior Olympics, in hurdles. I didn't "do" anything that I would have been told not to do, except listen to the doctors when I was advised to have my tonsils removed.