Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects an increasing proportion of women over the last decades. This evolution can be explained, in part, by lifestyle changes, scientists say. MS, which has its own international day on May 30th, today, mainly affects women. This trend is only increasing over time as today there are three affected women for one man, compared to two women for one man in the 1950s and 1960s. It’s a real epidemiological revolution, scientists agree.
Multiple sclerosis causes a disruption in the immune system which attacks the myelin, the protective sheath of nerve fibers.
Most often, it manifests itself by inflammatory attacks interspersed with phases of a lull during which the myelin reconstitutes in part. The symptoms of the MS disease are varied and include muscle weakness, disturbances of balance, vision impairment, and even paralysis.
In the more or less long-term, an irreversible handicap may develop.
Multiple sclerosis might affect more and more women due to lifestyle changes in women
According to the researchers, it is a multifactorial pathology combining genetic factors and environmental factors which could explain why more and more women are affected.
This was suggested by a study published in the American journal Neurology and which showed that the increase in MS incidence in women was mainly found in women who left rural areas to live in big cities.
The authors of the study postulated that this was associated with a shift from a rural to an urban way of life, as, for women, urbanization had led to an increase in smoking incidence, more frequent use of contraceptives, a decrease in the age at which they have their first child, and a change in diet.
According to neurologists, obesity is also a risk factor for developing multiple sclerosis and, once again, women are more and more exposed to obesity, also because of the lifestyle changes.