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Women with H.pylori Could be at Lower Risk for MS

June 23, 2016

Research shows that women with H.pylori could have a reduced risk of getting multiple sclerosis. H.pylori is a bacteria that resides in the gut over periods of time that can contribute to things like ulcers or stomach cancer. The bacteria is typically acquired in childhood years and correlates directly with hygiene, said senior researcher of the recent study, Dr. Allan Kermode.

The study conducted by Kermode and his team found that 14 percent of women with MS had prior evidence of past infection from H.pylori but 22 percent of healthy women showed a history with H.pylori as well.

While the association between H.pylori and MS isn’t clear, researchers do suggest that it adds further evidence to the case that developing infections early on in life could reduce one’s risk of MS. Researchers believe that this also could be the reason of why rates of MS are higher in developed countries where the level of hygiene standards are high.

Since multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease, it means that the immune system mistakenly attacks itself—it has been unclear of why this occurs for quite some time. There is a hygiene hypothesis theory which not suggests that when individuals are exposed to infections, their immune system may be unsure of when to attack. Kermode said, “In the last 100 years the prevalence of MS has increased markedly and the majority of this increase has occurred in women. The fact that over the same period, prevalence of helicobacter in western countries has declined markedly is a tantalizing observation.”

Since the study resides in its early stage, more research is required to understand the association between the two. More men should be enrolled in further studies in order to see if the link is also gender-specific.