Scientists have found no association between dietary intake of several minerals and whether people later develop multiple sclerosis. The study is published in the April 3, 2019, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. This article will also be published in the April 30 print issue of Neurology which is largely dedicated to null hypothesis studies with negative or inconclusive results. These results have the potential to inform future research efforts and to save study participants from avoidable risks.
The study involved 80,920 female nurses in the Nurses' Health Study and 94,511 in the Nurses' Health Study II. The women were asked via a questionnaire about diet and any supplement use every four years for up to 20 years of follow-up before some of the women developed MS. The minerals studied were zinc, iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, manganese and copper. During the study, 479 of the women developed MS.
The researchers evaluated the women's intake of the minerals to see if higher intake was tied to a higher or lower risk of MS. No such relationship was found. Researchers looked at mineral intake at the beginning of the study and also cumulative intake before MS onset and found no association. The results were the same when researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect the risk of MS, such as smoking and taking vitamin D supplements.
A limitation of the study was that only women were included, and most were white, so the results cannot be directly generalized to men or people of other races.
The study was supported by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the National Institutes of Health.
Learn more about multiple sclerosis at BrainandLife.org, home of the American Academy of Neurology's free patient and caregiver magazine focused on the intersection of neurologic disease and brain health. Follow Brain & Life® on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The American Academy of Neurology is the world's largest association of neurologists and neuroscience professionals, with over 36,000 members. The AAN is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer's disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, concussion, Parkinson's disease and epilepsy.
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