Research Sclersosis MS and ALS are not associated

EpubBoström et al. Mortality Statistics for Multiple Sclerosis and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in Sweden. Neuroepidemiology. 2012 Jun 5;38(4):245-249.

Background: MS and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS = motor neuron disease = MND =Lou Gehrigs disease) are chronic neurologic diseases for which distinct explanations of the pathogenesis are lacking. Two large Swedish register studies have rather unexpectedly detected a correlation between MS and ALS. 

Aim: The aim of this study was to investigate if an association between ALS and MS could be demonstrated as has been shown earlier.

Material and Methods: Data on mortality from ALS and MS, 1990-2010, were collected from the Swedish National Statistics Office. In all there were 5,696 deaths due to ALS and 3,941 deaths due to MS. Age- and sex-adjusted mortality rates were calculated.

Results: There was no correlation between the mortality rates of ALS and MS in the 21 counties of Sweden for the period 1990-2010. The national mean mortality rate for ALS throughout the period of 1990-2010 was 2.98 per 100,000 person-years (95% CI 2.87-3.08). For MS the national mean mortality rate was 2.04 per 100,000 person-years (95% CI 1.95-2.12).

Conclusion: This study did not confirm the previously shown association between MS and ALS in Sweden.

“These data may be out of date and Ram in our group is looking into this via the NHS database. From a clinical perspective there is little to link MS and ALS; different age of onset, sex ratio, etc. Despite this the mechanisms underlying neuronal death in MS and ALS may share common mechanisms and therefore could respond to similar drugs. I am not referring to the inflammatory component of the diseases but the neurodegenerative part.”

“At a personal level giving someone a diagnosis of ALS/MND is probably the hardest thing a neurologist can do. The figures regarding mortality and life expectancy are so much worse than MS.”

8 thoughts on “Research Sclersosis MS and ALS are not associated”

  1. Gosh, Germany has a lot of MS.Isn't MND a more severe version of progressive MS? There was a lady on a BBC Scottland report into MS who was very badly disabled, in that she unable to move and could not speak properly. It was scary to see that MS could be so viscious.

  2. No. MND and progressive MS are completely different diseases. You might end up as disabled with progressive MS in some cases but MND is a much more rapid disease with a life expectancy of around 2 years from diagnosis as was the case with my grandfather who died from MND.

  3. The MS map is interesting, but it would be more relevant to see the percentage of the population (although not as good a poster) as it makes Scandinavia look relatively healthy.

  4. Exactly, percentage would be more helpful. Germany has 82 million people that's why it looks so big. The percentage in Scotland in relation to the whole population is much higher.And MouseDoc2 – sorry to hear about your grandad.

  5. Life expetency of 2 years from diagnosis, but Stephen Hawking has lived for about 50 years. Is there any explanation?

  6. Re: "Stephen Hawking has lived for about 50 years. Is there any explanation?"Hawking probably has a condition called spinal muscular atrophy; it is related to MND, but a different disease. Adult onset SMA has a much better prognosis than MND.

  7. Re: "Has someone with MS, in your experiences, ever gone on to develop MND?"Fortunately, no one that I look after. But I am aware of 4 cases in the UK.

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