Healthy Living

Vitamin D Testing Can Predict Risk of Multiple Sclerosis in Women

A new study correlates vitamin D and lowered risk of MS

Only two smaller-scale studies have attempted to associated adequate vitamin D with decreased risk of multiple sclerosis. Both these studies failed to draw any concrete conclusions, likely because they only studied several hundred patients.

That's why Dr. Kassandra Mungar decided to study this concept further. She is a research scientist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health who has directed many multiple sclerosis studies. She has focused her career on studying relationships between diet and progression of diseases including multiple sclerosis and diabetes. She has also done some work studying viruses and their connection to multiple sclerosis.

How did Dr. Mungar study vitamin D and multiple sclerosis risks?

Dr. Mungar and her research team decided to look at old patient data dating back to 1983. Using the Finnish Maternity Cohort, they had access to patient information of over 800,000 women. This greatly increased the power of their study to identify any correlation between vitamin D levels and multiple sclerosis.

How did Dr. Mungar and her colleagues identify people who developed multiple sclerosis?

To figure out which of these women developed multiple sclerosis, they used two different approaches. One, they linked up their Finnish Maternity Cohort database with the Finnish Hospital Discharge Register to identify any women who had received a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis between 1983 and 2009. Second, they also looked at the registry of the Social Insurance Institution of Finland to collect information on prescription drug reimbursements for therapies treating multiple sclerosis. Any woman using such therapies can only get a prescription by presenting a certificate of diagnosis for the disease, signed by a physician. Both these strategies allowed identification of 1264 women with multiple sclerosis. For comparison, they also chose to evaluate 2123 women within the cohort who did not develop multiple sclerosis.