Topic / Research News

The more other illnesses a person with MS has, the worse the MS

Modifying risk factors like a poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, lack of sun exposure is likely to make a big impact in slowing the progression of MS.

The HOLISM study breaks new ground yet again! OMS has long held that MS is a lifestyle-related illness, that is, modifiable risk factors in the way we live increase the risk of developing MS and of it progressing.

Risk factors in MS progression

These risk factors include diet, smoking, exercise, sun exposure, vitamin D supplementation, omega 3 intake and so on.

If this were true, one would expect that people who have other lifestyle-related diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, for example, or those who eat badly and hence are overweight or obese, would also have worse health outcomes from MS.

The HOLISM investigators at the University of Melbourne sought to shed light on this by examining the number of other illnesses and the body weight of their large sample of people with MS from all over the world and looking at the associations with health outcomes from MS.

Study results

The results, published in the world's largest medical journal, PLoS One, showed that those people with MS in the sample who were overweight or obese were more likely to have other diseases, as expected, and those with a greater number of other diseases had worse quality of life, more relapses and worse disability.

Obese people with MS in the sample, quite apart from these associations, had worse quality of life and more disability. These results lend some urgency to researching this area in more depth.

Modifying risk factors 

But they also lend urgency to getting the message out to people with MS everywhere that there really is something they can do about MS! Modifying risk factors like a poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, lack of sun exposure, and so on, is critically central to making an impact on body weight and the prevalence of these other diseases.

This in turn is likely to make a big impact in slowing the progression of MS. Previously, the HOLISM investigators have shown the very strong, direct associations of these healthy lifestyles with better health outcomes for people with MS; this new research shows that ultra-healthy lifestyles like the OMS Recovery Program are likely to have very significant indirect benefits as well.

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