Obesity and birth control pills may increase risk of MS
Risk of multiple sclerosis (MS)—a progressive disease involving damage to the central nervous system—may be increased by taking birth control pills and obesity, according to new findings that will be presented in April at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting in Philadelphia.
The findings come from two separate studies, the first of which was conducted by scientists from the Raúl Carrera Institute for Neurological Research in Buenos Aires. Researchers analyzed the body mass index (BMI) of 420 individuals between ages 15 and 20—half of whom had MS and half of whom did not. They found that the participants who became obese before the age of 20 were twice as likely to develop MS than the participants who were not obese.
In the second study, scientists from Kaiser Permanente Southern California compared the use of birth control pills among 305 women with MS and 3,050 women without MS. Researchers found that women who took birth control pills were approximately 35 percent more likely to develop MS than women who did not take the contraceptives.
Research in MS has shown that the rate of MS among women has been on the rise. Part of the reason may be due to obesity and the use of oral contraceptives, suggests the findings of the two new studies. People who fall under one or both of these categories should speak with their health care provider before making any changes in their health behaviors.