Multiple sclerosis (MS) may not get as much attention as other serious diseases, but it is still a fairly widespread problem in the United States. According to a recent estimate, roughly 1 million Americans suffer from this autoimmune disorder. A study issued in late 2018 found that MS symptoms might be linked to a surprising culprit.
Food, Drugs and the Environment
Food allergies can play a major role in the appearance of MS symptom flare-ups. This was the opinion of a report published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. The study’s authors recruited over 1,300 MS sufferers for this project, asking them to provide information about their personal allergies and allergy symptoms. More specifically, the team sought information regarding the subjects allergic reactions to food, drugs and environmental factors.
The study noted that over 200 participants were allergic to various foods. Environmental allergies affected were present in nearly 600 subjects, while roughly the same amount of volunteers had allergic reactions to prescription drugs. With this data in hand, the team then documented the number of MS flare-ups each subject reported over an average of sixteen years. The authors collected this information over a multi-year timeframe, beginning in 2011 and ending in 2015.
The Next Step
So what did the team find? That answer was provided by Dr. Tanuja Chitnis, the study’s senior author and a specialist in MS. “Our findings suggest that MS patients with allergies have more active disease than those without, and that this effect is driven by food allergies,” stated Chitnis.
Compared to their allergy-free counterparts, those living with food allergies were a staggering 27-times more at risk of MS flare ups. It should be noted that the study is observational in nature, meaning that it does not conclusively link food allergies to MS symptoms. It will take additional research to confirm the report’s findings.