AAN logoEarly last month, we reported about stress seemingly not being a major risk factor for individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS). While on the same condition, a recent study shared osteoporosis and low bone density are apparently seen commonly in those in the early stages of MS.

The increase in the risk of MS is said to be linked to low vitamin D levels. Decreased calcium absorption and bone mineralization is known to be a result of low levels of the vitamin.

Study author Stine Marit Moen, MD, of Oslo University Hospital Ulleval in Norway, explained “We’ve known that people who have had MS for a long time are at a greater risk of low bone density and broken bones, but we didn’t know whether this was happening soon after the onset of MS and if it was caused by factors such as their lack of exercise due to lack of mobility, or their medications or reduced vitamin D from lack of sun exposure.”

“Our hypothesis was that if vitamin D exerts a major effect on the risk of MS, then the effects of low vitamin D levels on bone density would be apparent soon after the onset of MS,” Moen added.

The analysis included about 99 people at an average 37 years of age. These participants had been recently diagnosed with MS or clinically isolated syndrome. The latter means that they witnessed a first episode of symptoms like in MS but have probably not been diagnosed for the disease yet. A minor or no physical disability as a result of the condition was seen among all participants.

Averagely, bone density tests were conducted 1.6 years post the first symptoms suggesting MS. The tests from these participants were then pitted against the bone tests of 159 people not suffering from the disease but of identical age, gender and ethnicity. Among those with MS, a total of 51 percent suffered from osteoporosis or osteopenia. In comparison those who didn’t have the disease, the figure was only 37 percent. Osteopenia though less severe than osteoporosis supposedly increases the risk of a person to have osteoporosis.

“These results suggest that people in the early stages of MS and their doctors need to consider steps to prevent osteoporosis and maintain good bone health,” Moen said. “This could include changing their diet to ensure adequate vitamin D and calcium levels, starting or increasing weight-bearing activities and taking medications.”

Even after factors that may affect bone density like smoking, alcohol consumption and hormone treatment were adjusted, the results didn’t change.

The study has been published in the print issue of Neurology.