Everyday stress, coming from work and home life, may make symptoms worse for sufferers of MS, suggests new research, with the negative effect being equal to the positive aspects of some drugs
March 19, 2004
The negative effects from stressful life events, such as job related stress, on Multiple Sclerosis (MS) sufferers are as great as the positive benefits offered by some medical drugs, suggests a new study today.
The British Medical Journal (BMJ) meta-analysis research of 14 previous studies suggests that while traumatic events may have positive effects on sufferers, everyday stress from work may be exacerbating their symptoms:
‘Non-traumatic stressful life events are associated with an increased risk of exacerbation in patients with multiple sclerosis
‘We suggest that the negative effects of stress on exacerbation of multiple sclerosis are at least as great as the positive effects of a class of drugs widely considered to produce clinically meaningful results,’ the report states.
The researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, say that there is a ‘modest but significant risk’ of exacerbation after non-traumatic stressful life events, such as job stress or financial problems.
However, as with tracing back the physical effects from stress to its cause in any situation, the authors say that the data did not allow the linking of specific types of stress and call for further research.
‘These findings will hopefully open investigations into new avenues of managing multiple sclerosis, either through stress management or through treatment of the physical responses to stress,’ the authors state.
MS is the most common disabling neurological condition affecting young adults with around 85,000 people in the UK said to be suffering. For some people it is characterised by periods of relapse and remission while for others it is progressive.
It is the result of damage to myelin - a protective sheath surrounding
nerve fibres of the central nervous system. When myelin is damaged, this
interferes with messages between the brain and other parts of the body.
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