Shingles might increase the risk of multiple sclerosis.
Shingles may be related to an increased risk of multiple sclerosis (MS). The findings came from Taiwanese investigators who found a higher risk of multiple sclerosis during a 12-month follow-up after shingles, or herpes zoster. Common risk factors for multiple sclerosis are genetics, environmental causes, and viral factors.
The researchers looked at 315,550 adults with herpes zoster and 946,650 control participants, tracked and evaluated for 12 months to determine the risk of multiple sclerosis. After adjusting the data, the researchers found that adults with herpes zoster had 3.96 greater risk of multiple sclerosis, compared to the controls. Although there was a risk established, the researchers do report that it is quite low.
While the study is based on an Asian population, it still provides strong epidemiological information. It’s also important to note that Asian populations have a low prevalence of multiple sclerosis, compared to Western societies.
Teresa Corona wrote in an accompanying editorial, “The evidence provided in this study…allows us to better understand the role of these viral factors as an MS risk among certain genetically susceptible individuals.” She suggests the study should be accompanied by data from other parts of the world to help clarify the role of herpes zoster and other viruses in multiple sclerosis.
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