Patients with relapsing onset Multiple Sclerosis (MS) who consumed alcohol, wine, coffee and fish on a regular basis took four to seven years longer to reach the point where they needed a walking aid than people who never consumed them. However the study, published in the April issue of the European Journal of Neurology, did not observe the same patterns in patients with progressive onset MS.
The authors say that the findings suggest that different mechanisms might be involved in how disability progresses in relapsing and progressive onset MS.
Researchers asked patients registered with the Flemish MS Society to take part in a survey, which included questions on themselves, their MS and their current consumption of alcohol, wine, coffee, tea, fish and cigarettes.
The 1,372 patients who agreed to take part were also asked to indicate whether they had reached stage six on the zero to ten stage Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) and, if so, when this had happened.
"MS is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system" explains lead author Dr Marie D'hooghe from the National MS Center at Melsbroek, Belgium. "The clinical symptoms, progression of disability and severity of MS are unpredictable and vary from one person to another.
"Two major MS onset types can be distinguished. Progressive onset MS is characterised by a gradual worsening of neurological function from the beginning, whereas patients with relapsing onset MS patients experience clearly defined attacks of worsening neurologic function with partial or full remission.
"EDSS 6 is an important milestone in the development of MS as it is the point at which patients need support to walk a reasonable distance."
The patients who took part were aged between 17 and 89 years-of-age:
The researchers analysed how long it had taken people to reach EDSS 6 and compared those who reported moderate consumption of fish, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and cigarettes with those who reported occasional or no consumption. This showed that:
The time differences quoted above did not take into account gender, age at onset and treatment, which are known to affect disability progression in MS. But even after adjusting for these factors, the hazard risk analysis for time to sustained EDSS 6 (where 1.0 was the reference number for zero consumption) showed that:
The paper contains full details of the suggested mechanisms that may be involved in the links between consumption and disease progression.
"Although our findings show a number of associations between consumption and disease progression, it is important that patients recognise that this does not imply that certain food and drinks provide a protective effect as other factors may be involved" stresses Dr D'hooghe.
"Our study does, however, provide valuable pointers for future research as it reinforces the theory that different mechanisms may be involved in the progression of disability in relapsing and progressive onset MS."
Cite This Page: