What helps prevent MS? Sunny days, fruit, and coffee.
Getting plenty of sun, eating fresh fruits regularly and drinking coffee daily are associated with a lower risk for multiple sclerosis (MS) among adults in Saudi Arabia — while eating a lot of fast-food raises that risk, researchers report.
Their study, “Environmental exposures and the risk of multiple sclerosis in Saudi Arabia,” was recently published in the journal BMC Neurology.
Previous studies show mixed results concerning the prevalence of MS across the Gulf region. It is estimated to be high in Saudi Arabia, but the risk factors associated with the disease there remain unclear.
Researchers conducted a case-control study involving 307 MS patients and 307 matched healthy adults in three Saudi Arabian cities — Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam.
To evaluate different environmental risk factors, the team used a structured questionnaire focused on demographics, family history of MS, medical history, sun exposure levels, parental consanguinity, smoking habits, diet, obesity, coffee consumption, among other factors.
Most study participants were female (75%), and the mean age was 32.91 years for MS patients and 32.89 for matched controls. Almost half (42%) were between the ages of 18-29 years old. There was no statistically significant difference between MS patients and controls regarding their level of education, primary work status over the past 12 months, and average household earnings.
Results showed that, in Saudi Arabia, being the firstborn increases by 1.68-fold the risk of developing MS. Individuals with a family history of MS were found to be 5.83 times more likely compared to the matched control group.
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