Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressively debilitating neurologic condition wherein the body’s immune system targets nerves’ protective myelin sheath, which is responsible for the efficient conduction of electric impulses to and from the brain. This causes problems with balance, movement, muscle coordination, stamina and vision.
Currently, there are three common classifications of the disease: 1) relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis is defined by intervals of minimal symptoms or complete absence of symptoms called remissions, followed by an exacerbation or return of symptoms termed as relapses; 2) secondary progressive multiple sclerosis is acquired by around half of those with the relapsing type, which is characterized by a worsening of symptoms and a decrease in frequency or complete disappearance of remissions; and 3) primary progressive multiple sclerosis, the least common type, exhibits a continuous exacerbation of symptoms until remissions disappear.
The disease itself does not have a known cure, but while it is not fatal on its own, its resulting complications, such as pneumonia, can be life-threatening. Quite a number of research studies have been dedicated to understanding multiple sclerosis in the hopes of finding a cure and improving symptom management. of the disease Two of these studies will be discussed during the 66th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, scheduled for the 26th of April until the 3rd of May in Philadelphia.
Through these recent studies, it has been discovered that leptin or the “obesity hormone,” as well as the hormone components of birth control are linked to multiple sclerosis. According to one study, women who were on oral contraceptive pills (OCP) had an increased likelihood of nearly 35% of developing multiple sclerosis, compared to those who did not take OCPs.
While health officials are not prepared to dissuade women from the use of birth control in order to avoid the onset of Multiple Sclerosis, the discovery of a link between the hormone components of contraception, together with the presence of leptin, may give researchers further clues into how to develop next-generation treatments for the disease, as well as how to cure it entirely.