Vitamin D Testing Can Predict Risk of Multiple Sclerosis in Women
Scientists may have found a way to detect a person's risk of developing multiple sclerosis - just by using a simple blood test. This test looks at the level of vitamin D in the blood.
An association has been found between increased risk of multiple sclerosis and vitamin D deficiency. However not much information is available on this link. It is still not known whether the risk of the disease can be reduced by adequate levels of the vitamin. Hence we really do not know whether the phenomenon can be reversed by supplementing vitamin D. To associate adequate vitamin D with reduced risk of the disease, only two smaller scale studies have been attempted. No concrete conclusions have been drawn by these studies.
This concept was further studied by Dr Kassandra Mungar. At the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health she is a research scientist. She has done multiple studies on sclerosis. She studies the relation between the progression of the disease and diet. They looked at old data of patient. They obtained data of 1983. Of over 800,000 women they were able to access patient information by using the Finnish Maternity Cohort. The power of the study greatly increased by this.
This helped them study the correlation between the disease and vitamin D. They used two different approaches to find out which of these women developed multiple sclerosis. The database of Finnish Maternity Cohort was linked to the Finnish Hospital Discharge Register. Women between the year 1983 and 2009 that received diagnosis of multiple sclerosis could be identified. Also for therapies treating multiple sclerosis they collected information on prescription drug by looking at the registry of the Social Insurance Institution of Finland. Only by presenting a certificate for diagnosis of the disease any women using such therapies can get the prescription. Thus 1264 women with the disease were identified. Also 2123 women within the cohort who did not develop the disease were also evaluated.
How was data collected?
Repository of blood samples were used to evaluate vitamin D levels. As a part of their routine prenatal care, the women who were identified using the Finnish Maternity Cohort had conveniently given blood samples. In these blood samples researchers decided to look at the vitamin D levels. Any concentration lower than 30 nanomoles per litre was considered to be a deficiency when measuring vitamin D levels. If the level was above 50 nmol/L then it was normal.
The researchers tried to figure out the correlation. It was found that 58 percent of women had both the disease and the deficiency. On average, 9 years after they gave their blood they developed the disease. 52 percent of women had the deficiency but not the disease. Eventually, there were some in this group who developed the disease. Also, a relationship was identified between reduced risk of the disease and normal vitamin D levels.
It was observed that there was a resulting 30 percent reduced risk with every 50 nmol/L increase in the level of vitamin D. The level of risk would determine the severity of deficiency. The risk was 43 percent higher in women who had full-blown deficiencies. The risk was 39 percent higher if there was full vitamin deficiency compared to women with insufficient levels.