With the stressors of life in full force, I was happy to learn that stress does not cause MS. This article came to me through an email from the National MS Society:
Study: No Link Found Between Stess and Development of Multiple SclerosisThis was bittersweet to learn. If they had found that stress causes MS, then at least I would have something to blame (I have an extremely Type A personaility and therefore am stressed much more often than not, plus law school and the legal profession do not held my stress level). However, I would have been pretty frustrated to learn that stress causes MS, therefore this revelation is a little bittersweet.
A new study finds that stress does not appear to increase a person’s risk of developing MS. The study, published in the May 31, 2011 issue of Neurology, focused on two large groups of women involved in the Nurses’ Health Study, involving hundreds of thousands of female nurses followed over time. The nurses were asked to report on general stress at home and at work, as well as recall physical and sexual abuse in childhood and as teenagers. The investigators, led by Trond Riise, PhD (University of Bergen, Norway), concluded that their results do not support a major role of stress in the development of MS, but that more research is needed to definitely exclude stress as a potential risk factor for developing MS.
Background: Some studies have suggested that stress may be linked to MS exacerbations, or attacks, but there is still no conclusive evidence that links the two. There have been a few previous studies linking stressful events with the onset of MS, but there has not been definite evidence that stress could cause MS. This is the question posed in this study.
Details: With funding from the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Riise and collaborators focused on two Nurses’ Health Study groups, involving female nurses in the U.S. followed over time: the NHS1 included 121,700 nurses between the ages of 30-55 who have been followed from 1976. NHS2 included 116,671 nurses between the ages of 25-42 who have been followed from 1989. The participants had responded to past questionnaires about their history of stressful events. Later, a small proportion of the nurses developed MS, and the investigators were able to compare the answers about stressors between those who developed MS and those who did not.
The investigators found that those who later developed MS did not respond significantly different than those who did not develop MS in terms of their histories of general levels of stress or physical or sexual abuse. They accounted for other variables, such as smoking, that have been linked to increasing the risk of developing MS. The authors conclude that this study does not support a major role for stress in the development of MS, but suggest that further research is needed to definitely exclude stress as a risk factor for MS.
I hope everyone reading is well! I will try not to let so much time pass between this post and the next.