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Sodium Intake Ruled Out as Cause of Multiple Sclerosis

November 16, 2017

A recent report found there’s no link between dietary sodium intake and the risk for multiple sclerosis (MS).

Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health evaluated food frequency questionnaires in order to prospectively examine the link between sodium intake and MS risk. The surveys were administered every 4 years to about 80,000 nurses in the Nurses’ Health Study (between 1984 and 2002) and about 94,000 nurses in the Nurses’ Health Study II (between 1991 and 2007).

The questionnaires asked about different exposures, such as lifestyle and health-related outcomes, as well as dietary sodium intake, and assessed portion size and usual consumption of 130 food items in categories such as: dairy products, fruits, vegetables, breads/cereals/starches, eggs/meats, beverages, sweets/baked goods, and miscellaneous.

The team then followed up with the neurologists of the women who reported an MS diagnosis in their questionnaire and additionally reviewed their medical records.

Marianna Cortese, MD, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, explained to MD Magazine that many papers suggested a link between sodium or salt and development of MS. These papers purported it was possible that the increase in salt intake in the past few decades could be the explanation behind the perceived increase of MS occurrence.