Although the reason behind the connection between Helicobacter pylori and multiple sclerosis is unknown, women with the stomach bacteria might not be as likely to develop MS, a recent study found.
Researchers looked at blood samples of 550 people with MS and 299 healthy people of the same age. Results of the study, published Jan. 19, showed that 14% of women with MS had evidence of a past infection of H. pylori, while 22% of healthy women had evidence of a past H. pylori infection, according to a Health Day report on the study.
The H. pylori bacteria can lead to ulcers or even stomach cancer, according to Health Day. MS is an unpredictable and often disabling disease of the central nervous system that interrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and body, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Symptoms include numbness, tingling, blindness and paralysis. The society estimates MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide, with most patients being between the ages 20 and 50 when they are diagnosed.
Helicobacter is typically acquired in childhood and correlates directly with hygiene, Allan Kermode, PhD, senior researcher on the study and professor of neurology at the University of Western Australia in Perth, said in the report.
Kermode said in the Health Day report that the study supports the theory that certain infections earlier in life could help prevent MS later.
Researchers also found that for women with MS, those with a past H. pylori infection tended to have less severe symptoms of the disease, according to Health Day.
In the last 100 years, the prevalence of MS has increased markedly, and the majority of this increase has occurred in women, Kermode said in the Health Day report. The fact that over the same period, prevalence of helicobacter in western countries has declined markedly is a tantalizing observation.
For more information, visit http://consumer.healthday.com/diseases-and-conditions-information-37/immune-disorder-news-404/ulcer-bacteria-tied-to-lower-multiple-sclerosis-risk-695620.html.