More MS news articles for June 2001

Dietary Factors, Pets Emerge as New Risk Factors for MS

TORONTO (Reuters Health) Jun 18 - Montreal researchers have identified a number of new risk factors for multiple sclerosis (MS) which, if modified, might help delay or even prevent disease onset. Findings were presented at the 2001 Congress of Epidemiology meeting that is ongoing here.

Dr. Parviz Ghadirian, director of the epidemiology research unit at the University of Montreal, and colleagues conducted a case-control study involving 197 patients with MS and 202 controls. Analyses revealed that individuals who had a high calorie intake were twice as likely to have MS as controls. Rates of MS were also almost twice as high in individuals with a diet high in saturated fats versus controls, "with the evidence being more for males than for females," Dr. Ghadirian told Reuters Health in an interview.

Conversely, "a significant protective effect [against MS] was observed with dietary vegetable protein," researchers indicate. Here, men and women whose main source of protein came from vegetables had a 60% lower risk of developing MS than controls, Dr. Ghadirian noted.

Dietary fiber was also associated with between a 30% to 36% lower risk of developing MS relative to controls, and individual nutrients including vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin, calcium and potassium were all strongly protective against MS, Dr. Ghadirian added.

"We also looked at pets people had, and if they'd had a cat for the last 10 years, the risk of MS was decreased by 50%, whereas if they'd had a bird, the risk of having MS was more than doubled, " Dr. Ghadirian said, adding that "people with either a family history of MS, or who already have had some signs of MS, should consider these risk factors which appear to be protective [against MS]."

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