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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Healthy' Diets Don't Seem to Reduce MS Risk


Published: Sep 15, 2014



BOSTON -- Dietary patterns in women did not appear to influence their risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a large study with 2 decades of follow-up.
Among participants in the original Nurses' Health Study and the Nurses' Health Study II -- totaling more than 185,000 women -- rates of new-onset MS were similar irrespective of their rated adherence to four "heart-healthy" diets, said Dalia Rotstein, MD, of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues.
The only association reaching statistical was a reduced risk of MS diagnosis among participants whose self-reported food patterns throughout the follow-up period most resembled the Western diet normally associated with poor health outcomes (hazard ratio 0.66, P<0.05 versus low conformance to the Western diet), Rotstein said during a platform presentation at the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis annual meeting, held jointly this year with its North American counterpart.
Participants with high adherence to a so-called prudent diet (high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-cholesterol animal proteins), the DASH diet, a Mediterranean-type diet, or a diet rated as healthy according to the Alternate Healthy Eating Index (also emphasizing fruits, vegetables, and low consumption of high-cholesterol foods) showed no lower rates of MS diagnosis than those with low adherence, with HRs of 0.89 to 1.15, all withP values much greater than 0.05.
Rotstein said the association between the Western diet -- high in red and processed meat consumption and low in unprocessed plant matter -- and reduced MS risk was probably a statistical fluke.
She also emphasized that the food intake data were all collected during participants' adulthood and said that dietary patterns during adolescence may be more influential on MS risk.
"Additional research is required to determine the possible role of diet quality in early years," she said.
Rotstein noted, too, that the study only addressed overall adherence to certain diet plans without examining intake of specific foods or nutrients, except for vitamin D supplementation. She acknowledged that specific diet components that genuinely influence MS risk might not have been captured in the current analysis.
Nevertheless, the study's broad implication is that overall diet "quality," according to standards now generally accepted for promotion of cardiovascular health, does not affect MS risk, Rotstein said.
She introduced her presentation by reviewing earlier studies of diet and MS, which mostly either found no association between dietary factors and disease risk or had conflicting results. These studies were limited by either a focus on individual components, such as polyunsaturated fatty acids or overall fat content, or by small participant samples.


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