Of the more than 10,000 new cases of multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosed annually in the United States, a disproportionate number are women, according to Johns Hopkins University, so scientists are undertaking a study to better understand the discrepancy.
The underlying cause of MS is not fully understood, according to a university release. Dr. Peter Calabresi directs JHU’s multiple sclerosis division, and together with Dr. Ellen Mowry, his team is blending research with clinical practice to investigate why MS affects women more than men at certain ages.
Mowry postulates that body fat and obesity could play a role in inflammation; women tend to have a higher percentage of body fat than men, according to the release.
“The inflammation chemicals in women’s bodies are different from those in men, and focusing research on these may provide clues as to why more women are affected,” Mowry said in the release.
The team is also studying the possible relationship between the disease and vitamin D levels; MS patients are more likely to live at latitudes farther from the equator and therefore absorb less sunlight, the release said. However, individuals living with the disorder may actually be predisposed to spending more time indoors to begin with.
Calabresi and his colleagues at Johns Hopkins specialize in individualizes patient treatments for optimal outcomes.
“It’s important for women and men alike with MS to get on the best therapy for them as early as possible,” he said in the release.