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US Multiple Sclerosis and Life Expectancy Study Results Revealed

MS life expectancy

The results of a large study of multiple sclerosis and life expectancy in the US have just been released, and while they provide food for thought, they are by no means conclusive. After all, many factors must be considered when determining the length of one’s life, and every person has unique characteristics and circumstances to be factored in.

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The study, which was a collaboration between individuals at Boston University, the University of California San Francisco, the University of Alabama, Heinrich Heine University in Dusseldorf, a consulting firm (Care-Safe LLC), and Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, involved an analysis of data from health insurance claims from 30,402 individuals with MS and 89,818 without the neurodegenerative disease (controls) between 1996 and 2009.

Two main findings were reported by the authors:

  • Yearly death rates were 899 per 100,000 among people with MS and 446 per 100,000 among the control group
  • MS patients were found to have a median lifespan that was 6 years less than that of controls

According to the study’s lead author, David Kaufman, ScD, of the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University, “this is the first time an MS survival disadvantage has been shown in this country.” He also noted that the findings “are consistent with what has been reported elsewhere in the world.”

One example are the results of a recent study from British Columbia, Canada. A comparison of lifespan of MS patients with the general population found that the latter tended to live an average of six years longer.

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Not all bad news
Although the results of this new study are not good news, it’s not the only information to be considered. One of the most important things to take into account is the continuing advancements being made in MS treatment.

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Another recent study (Neurology 2013), for example, pointed out that the results of a long-term follow-up study found that use of interferon beta-1b “demonstrated a significant reduction of mortality among treated patients.” The published studies also did not take into account the use of newer disease-modifying drugs such as teriflunomide (Aubagio, 2012), dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera, 2013), and fingolimod (Gilenya, 2010).

Both conventional and complementary research concerning MS continues to reveal information MSers can consider and use to improve symptoms and quality of life. Whether it’s

many opportunities are available that may help people with MS not only improve their lives but extend their life expectancy as well.

Kaufman DW et al. Survival in commercially insured multiple sclerosis patients and comparator subjects in the US. Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders 2013 Dec
Kingwell E et al. Relative mortality and survival in multiple sclerosis: findings from British Columbia, Canada. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry 2012 Jan; 83(1): 61-66
Scalfari A et al. Mortality in patients with multiple sclerosis. Neurology 2013 Jul 9; 81(2): 184-92

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