Multiple sclerosis associated with lower cancer risk

March 30, 2009

A new study shows that people with multiple sclerosis may be at a lower risk for cancer overall, but at a higher risk of developing certain types of cancer, such as brain tumors and bladder cancer. The study is published in the March 31, 2009, print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Researchers looked at the medical records of 20,000 people with multiple sclerosis and 204,000 people without the diagnosis. After 35 years, they found that the people with MS had a decreased overall risk of by 10 percent compared to people who did not have the disease. The result was more pronounced in women. However, for people with MS the risk for certain cancers, such as and bladder and other urinary organ cancers, increased by up to 44 percent compared to people without MS.

Scientists also evaluated the parents of people with MS to determine whether there was a possible genetic link. They found that there was no overall increased or decreased risk of cancer among either mothers or fathers of those with MS, compared to parents of people without MS.

"We speculate that the lower risk for cancer among people with MS could be a result of lifestyle changes or treatment following diagnosis," said study author Shahram Bahmanyar, MD, PhD, of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. "The increase in brain tumor diagnoses may be due to , 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."

Bahmanyar also noted that people with MS have on average a lower body mass index (BMI) than the general population, and BMI is a risk factor for several types of cancer, so the lower body weight may explain some of the reduction in cancer risk. It is also possible that some reduction in cancer risk results from the way the body responds to MS.

Source: American Academy of Neurology (news : web)

Explore further: Men and women equally transmit genetic risk of MS to their children

Related Stories

Childhood sun exposure may lower risk of MS

July 23, 2007

People who spent more time in the sun as children may have a lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS) than people who had less sun exposure during childhood, according to a study published in the July 24, 2007, issue ...

If MRI shows signs of MS, will the disease develop?

December 10, 2008

With more and more people having brain MRIs for various reasons, doctors are finding people whose scans show signs of multiple sclerosis (MS) even though they have no symptoms of the disease. A new study published in the ...

Gene may lead to early onset of brain tumor

January 26, 2009

People with a particular gene variant may be more likely to develop brain tumors, and at an earlier age, than people without the gene, according to a study published in the January 27, 2009, print issue of Neurology, the ...

Young smokers increase risk for multiple sclerosis

February 23, 2009

People who start smoking before age 17 may increase their risk for developing multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 61st Annual Meeting ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.