Stress might aggravate multiple sclerosis incidents, but being under stress may not increase the risk of developing the disease for women, a study finds.
Researchers studied two cohorts of the Nurses' Health Study to see if the stress of daily life or having a stressful childhood could put women more at risk for acquiring MS, an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system.
The Nurses' Health Study followed 121,700 female nurses age 30 to 55 starting in 1976, and the Nurses' Health II study followed 116,671 female nurses age 25 to 42 from 1989. The study participants rated the stress at work and home and were asked about any physical and sexual abuse they encountered as children and teens.
In the first group, 77 women developed MS by 2005. In the second group 292 women developed the disease by 2004. Stress levels at home and work had no effect on the risk of developing the disease, and that held true after the researchers adjusted for variables such as smoking habits, body mass index at age 18, ethnicity, and at what latitude they were born.