MS Associated With Lower Cancer Risk

A new study has shown that people afflicted with multiple sclerosis may have a lower overall risk in developing cancer. On the other hand, the study also showed that MS patients may also have a higher risk of developing certain types of cancers such as those affecting the brain and the bladder. This study results can be found in the March 31, 2009 print issue of the American medical journal Neurology.

The said study involved researchers looking into the medical records of about 20,000 people diagnosed with MS as well as 204,000 medical records of people without such diagnosis. After a period spanning 35 years, researchers found out that people with multiple sclerosis have a 10 percent decreased overall cancer risk than those who did not have the disease. The evaluation also seem to show more pronounced results for women, who are more at risk of developing multiple sclerosis than men.

But the same study also showed that people with MS may have a 44 percent increased chances of developing brain tumors, bladder and other urinary organ cancers than people who do not have the disease. The researchers also looked into the parents of the patients with MS to determine any possible genetic links with the disease. The result showed no perceptible difference in cancer risks for parents of both the people studied, with and without MS.

Study author Shahram Bahmanyar, MD, PhD of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden believes that the lower cancer risk in people with MS may be attributed to the lifestyle changes and treatment that people have taken as a result of the said disease. "We speculate that the lower risk for cancer among people with MS could be a result of lifestyle changes or treatment following diagnosis."

"The increase in brain tumor diagnoses may be due to brain inflammation, but this finding may not reflect a real increase in cancer risk, as there is some evidence that more frequent neurological investigations in these patients mean that brain tumors are more likely to be found sooner. There may also be reasons related to the disease that could increase the risk for urinary organ cancers, resulting from chronic irritation to those organs as a result of MS. However, individual risk of developing urinary organ cancer is modest, as less than 0.2 percent of people with MS developed this cancer for every 10 years of follow-up."

Dr. Bahmanyar also noted that people with MS have a lower Body Mass Index on average as compared to the general population. Since BMI is a risk factor for certain types of cancers, a lower BMI might also explain the reduction in the cancer risk among people with the disease.

Source: American Academy of Neurology. "Multiple Sclerosis Associated With Lower Cancer Risk." ScienceDaily 30 March 2009. 31 March 2009 .

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