December 29, 2014
Many people do not realize it, but a case of shingles (herpes zoster) actually increases the risk of developing Multiple Sclerosis (MS). A study published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases and reported on by the Reuter’s news agency, showed that “people who developed shingles had four times the risk of being diagnosed with MS within the following year, relative to people who had never experienced shingles.” (1)
“MS occurs when the protective coating around nerve fibers begins to break down – slowing the brain’s communication to the rest of the body. Symptoms include fatigue and problems with balance and muscle coordination, as well as memory loss and trouble with logical thinking in some people.” (1)
Results of the study, which took place in Taiwan, showed that “of 1,262,200 sampled patients, 29 from the study group and 24 from the control group had MS during the 1-year follow-up period. After adjusting for monthly income and geographic region, the hazard of MS was 3.96 times greater for the study group than controls.” (2)
Dr. Jiunn-Horng Kang wrote that “About 2.5 million people have MS worldwide, according to the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America. Most experience their first symptoms between the ages of 15 and 50. Shingles occurs most commonly in the elderly, but is not uncommon in younger people.” Dr. Kang was one of the study authors, and works at the Taipei Medical University Hospital.
In Dr. Kang’s study, “approximately 100,000 people with shingles were younger than 45. Reviewing a database from the insurer that covers 98 percent of Taiwan’s population, the researchers found more than 300,000 people with shingles. They compared them to nearly 950,000 others with similar characteristics, who didn’t have the disease.
Over the course of a year, fewer than one in 10,000 in the group with shingles developed MS – three times as many as in the group without shingles.” (1)
It’s important to note that Dr. Kang’s study did not show that shingles actually causes MS. However, Dr. Kang said that “there are ‘several potential mechanisms’ that could explain why the two diseases are linked … for instance, shingles is associated with disruptions to the immune system, which in turn might trigger MS.” (1)
This suggests the need for effective treatments that target the varicella zoster virus (VZV), which causes shingles.
– TargetShingles.com Team