Abusing MS


We all know that “life” is a sexually-transmitted disease with 100% mortality, but a few years ago it was suggested that MS was a sexually-transmitted disease and it caused a great deal of uproar….I was at ECTRIMS when the news broke and remember the reactions of neuros from the same group as the author….It wasn’t pretty.

As MS is diagnosed in Children…..I am sure that some parents were offended by these suggestions/implications and I am sure there are some people out there that don’t remember “doing it” before they got MS. Did the people do any research to disprove their ideas like finding people with MS who hadn’t had sex or was it just armchair science, which you know I am not a fan of to say the least…..As a recipient of a bit of Armchair science from the person that later caused the anti-Vax and Autism movement….I not a fan of armchair science

P.S. However, I can see it now…for the next paper fodder. The risk of rohypnol use and suseptibility to MS…Perhaps it would make a change from the risk of smoking and MS. I am sorry I know this is a poor taste joke.

However, in this study from Norway, we have the risk of MS after childhood abuse. This comes in the form of sexual abuse, physical abuse and emotional abuse. The take-home message, is if you have all three types of abuse you are twice as likely to develop MS. Notably emotional and sexual abuse were associated with an increased risk of developing MS….So here we go again. I am sure this will reach the press, despite the behaviour of BoJo, elections and the Pres Vlad….remember Sex sells.

You will be thankful that I am staying well clear of this one. Remember you can not be abused and still get MS.

In Norway it seems that 14,477 of about 78,000 women in Norway were abused in childhood. That’s about 19%…Yuck. Is this the Norm I ask?…Looking on Wiki is says about 8% of UK women suffer domestic abuse. But what is the abuse?…

In this study it is Sexual (Forced into sexual actions), Physical (Have you been subject to physical abuse?….I wonder how many people got into a fight at school and whilst times have changed people use to get the occasional slap for being naughty…But MS has increased) and Emotional abuse (Have you been humiliated or threatened?)….The UK Home/Office and Customs service has done a good job at that for me for about 40 years and during lockdown. I did a offical Deed Poll to change my name as a result…maybe that’s the problem for all my ailments:-). Maybe it was the “nice and nasty” at Heathrow terminal 4 and “bend over and the snap of rubber gloves” that has caused my health woes. Anyway as for the the name You won’t guess what it is changed to, but that people laugh when I tell them…is that abuse too?

Only about 40% of people responded so were the other 60% abused and were afraid to answer or couldnt be bothered to answer. Did the 40% contain an over-represention of abused people. As the impact of the abuse is relatively small this may matter.

Also, in this study the abuse occurred in childhood/adolesence, but their MS occurred in the people’s mid-30s on average. In the military studies in the US, the MS showed itself within 5 years of EBV infection, so why would abuse that occurred 15-20 years prior to the disease showing itself after many more years earlier.

Anyway this is not for me, I stay well clear of these discussions, they are so hard to prove, the people making the claims don’t seem to try and disprove them and one always has to ask “cause and effect”…..Was it the abuse or that your parents made you watch Jim’ll fix it or Corrie or Towie (FYI…these are all TV programmes)?

I always say “ice cream sales and MS”, I bet you could show a link if you ask the question..but why ask it? I suspect that you eat more ice cream in summer and in summer you get more ultraviolet light and make more vitamin D or you go out more and so are more likely to catch EBV… So Ice cream causes MS. Yes madness, but if you dress the link up into something you thing is plausible, some people buy it. As you can see the reasons can be endless and it is not worth beating yourself-up about stuff you can’t control…

However, it made me remember the punch from a kid called “TB” that I got by when I was about 8 years old when I was playing on the swings. I didn’t react and TB didn’t know what to do?…Did that event make me a scientist, because I could guess the psyche of TB, who wanted a scrap, they didn’t get it…As for what happened to TB…who cares!

Have a read and a rant its open access….. What next?

Oral sex and MS?…………………………….That’s been done in Denmark already :-(, What next.

Association of adverse childhood experiences with the development of multiple sclerosis.Eid K, Torkildsen Ø, Aarseth J, Aalstad M, Bhan A, Celius EG, Cortese M, Daltveit AK, Holmøy T, Myhr KM, Riise T, Schüler S, Torkildsen CF, Wergeland S, Gilhus NE, Bjørk MH.J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2022 Apr 4:jnnp-2021-328700. doi: 10.1136/jnnp-2021-328700. 

Objective To study whether exposure to childhood emotional, sexual or physical abuse is associated with
subsequent multiple sclerosis (MS) development.

Methods A nationwide, prospective cohort study based on participants in the Norwegian Mother, Father and Child cohort study. Enrolment took place 1999–2008, with follow-up until 31 December 2018. Childhood abuse before age 18 years was obtained from self-completed questionnaires. We identified MS diagnoses through data-linkage with national health registries and hospital records.

Results In this prospective cohort study, 14, 477 women were exposed to childhood abuse and 63,520 were unexposed. 300 women developed MS during the follow-up period. 71 of these (24%) reported a history of childhood abuse, compared with 14,406 of 77,697 (19%) women that did not develop MS. Sexual abuse (HR 1.65, 95%CI 1.13 to 2.39) and emotional abuse (HR 1.40, 95%CI 1.03 to 1.90) in childhood were both associated with an increased risk of developing MS. The HR of MS after exposure to physical abuse was 1.31 (95% CI 0.83 to 2.06). The risk of MS was further increased if exposed to two (HR 1.66, 95%CI 1.04 to 2.67) or all three abuse categories (HR 1.93, 95%CI 1.02 to 3.67).
Interpretation Childhood sexual and emotional abuse were associated with an increased risk of developing MS. The risk was higher when exposed to several abuse categories, indicating a dose–response relationship.Further studies are needed to identify underlying mechanisms.

Disclaimer; This paper is nothing to do with me but what do you think?

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  • The only link I could see with developing Ms and abuse is the stress that any kind of abuse causes but as you say if Ms presents itself years later that’s not really proof is it?

    • Trauma of any kind can lead to life-long mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and chronic stress. E.g., PTSD. It’s not totally implausible.

  • What do I think? I think pharmaceutical companies are hoping to develop a drug that targets a stress response bio marker, like Corticotropin releasing factor (CRF), with a pinkie promise it will prevent later development of Immune disorder like MS. It would be nice. But Meanwhile, These scientists are far removed from every day reality of their MS study participants, and myself, as I sit here at my kitchen table, wishing for enough strength in my limbs so I can go to grocery store and cook for holiday.

  • The time and funding that was wasted for this study pees me off!!!😡 Time & funding should have gone to much better use. Who in their right mind approved this study? However M.D., reading your introductory to this has me in stitches 😂🤣😂🤣😂🤣. Thanks for the morning giggle.

  • Only reported are associations for females. I’d like to see male results from their data as well. Do only females get MS in Norway? A lot of stuff can be associated with a willingness to disclose unflattering data. Females with MS are perhaps more willing to disclose? The survey used- how was it validated? Is it? Has it ever been validated internationally so results can be compared across borders from culture to culture; society to society? After seeing this (if I were female), I might be reluctant to see a medical doctor if one question were going to be “Were you abused emotionally, sexually or physically before 18?”

  • Odds are low this is a real causal effect, but if it is, it’s due to the physiological effects of chronic trauma. The topic is necessarily hard to do good causal research, but significant physiological differences are likely based on a lot of indirect evidence. Lots of papers on physiology and trauma. It may be worth skimming a few before being snarky again on a complex and challenging topic.

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