29 April 2009

'Good' cholesterol may guard against MS disability

World map showing that risk (incidence) for MS...Image via Wikipedia

From Denny: This is an interesting development that popped up in the health news today at Reuters and good news at that! Researchers believe that high levels of HDL - the good cholesterol - just might help protect against disabilities related to multiple sclerosis (MS).

Good Cholesterol has anti-inflammatory properties

Since MS is known as a disease that involves chronic inflammation, and good cholesterol is known as possessing anti-inflammatory properties, this is good news in the treatment of MS. Improving the diet of an MS patient may go a long way to benefiting them.

Change your diet, says the study

The study, from the State University of New York at Buffalo, was reported at a Seattle, Washington annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology. This is preliminary data suggesting support for the theory that MS patients should have their HDL levels checked. If they are low they can be raised through the use of statins and fish oil (omega 3) supplements which will increase the good cholesterol levels.

The six-year study involved 186 MS patients whose average age was 50 years whose clinical, demographic and HDL data was analyzed. At the beginning of the study close to 50% had high HDL levels while 20% had low levels.

What did researchers find?

There developed a clear association between the good cholesterol levels and the level of disability. Lower HDL levels showed greater disability.

"Increase in HDL is an important factor known to prevent cardiovascular events but also appears beneficial in preventing chronic inflammation," Weinstock-Guttman noted from the study, adding that both statins and omega-3s have preliminarily shown "beneficial effects for MS patients."

More studies needed to take it to the next level

As usual, researchers want to look into more studies about this new finding. The next logical step, they believe, is to study the relationship between the HDL levels and the progression of the MS disease.

Considering how serious and debilitating a disease is MS, today brought some very good news, especially when something as easy to do as a diet tailored to create less inflammation may go a long way to providing great benefit.

In the map illustration is the risk factor for getting MS associated with where you live in the world. The dark blue is highest risk, the red is second highest risk, the gold is low risk, the yellow even lower, and green the lowest.

Here is an interesting very positive and practical personal blog about what it is like to live with MS on a daily basis:

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