“Women who take oral contraceptive pills are at increased risk of multiple sclerosis.”
This has been concluded in a recent study conducted by Dr Kerstin Hellwig from Kaiser Permanente Southern California and her team. The results of this study will be presented at the upcoming American Academy of Neurology’s Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, April 26 to May 3, 2014.
How Was The Birth Control Hormone Study Conducted?
Researchers checked the health details of more than three hundred women who were between the ages of fourteen and forty-eight. These women were suffering from multiple sclerosis or its precursor, clinically isolated syndrome (CIS), during the period 2008 to 2011.
The researchers examined the use of oral contraceptive pills by these women before they showed symptoms of multiple sclerosis. The majority of the women used an estrogen or progestin combination of the oral contraceptive pills.
It was shown that women who were on birth control pills had a 30 percent higher risk of being afflicted with MS. The results of this study were compared with the control group of approximately 3000 women who did not have multiple sclerosis or its symptoms.
Dr Hellwig said that approximately 29 percent of the women with MS were found to have used oral contraceptive medicine prior to their diagnosis, whereas only 23 percent of women in the control group used birth control measures. Moreover, women who used oral contraceptive pills at some point in the three years before being diagnosed were at a slightly higher risk.
What Are The General Causes Of Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is an autoimmune disease affecting the central nervous system. The causes of MS are not clear, but professionals reason that smoking, genetics and environmental threats are some of the probable causes of this disease. According to Dr Hellwig, MS usually occurs between the ages of twenty and forty.
Researchers assert that it is not fully proven that the oral contraceptive pill causes multiple sclerosis, but it does have some connection. Dr Hellwig further elucidates that it is still not confirmed whether hormones cause the development of MS, but it has been reported that women are at a two or three times higher risk of developing this disease compared to men.
Dr Hellwig explains that she and her team of experts examined the details of women who were on oral contraceptive pills for at least three months, and the results of their study were based on these details. The investigation was incomplete, however, since they were unable to study the lifetime exposure of these women.
Dr Hellwig emphasizes that although the preliminary examination does show a connection, they still cannot confirm the use of oral contraceptive pills as the main cause of multiple sclerosis. She says that the use of birth control pills might indicate a slight increase in cases of multiple sclerosis in women, but only to a small extent. However, she also advised that the study does not suggest that young women should avoid taking birth control pills.