"We saw a marked increase in the number of women diagnosed compared to men. It started at two-to-one and is now four-to-one," said study author Gary Cutter, a professor of biostatistics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. (All right...I KNOW I'm neither genius nor brilliant for that matter. But, Puleeze! More women are in the workforce now than in any other point in history. Having a job means having INSURANCE. Having insurance means BETTER HEALTH CARE. And having better health care means access to DIAGNOSIS. Is this REALLY a gender issue at all?)
The finding, said Cutter, "gives us clues to the etiology of the disease, and researchers can look for things that affect females more than male." (Try friggin' hormones, you idiots!...Oh, wait...that WAS my hormones speaking there...)
Some of those factors might be the use of birth control pills, earlier menstruation, rising rates of obesity, (I think the rates of obesity in men are currently higher than women right now, but I'd have to do "research" to find those statistics!) more women smoking, and later ages at first pregnancies.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system. Symptoms of the disease vary widely from person to person, and may include fatigue, dizziness, pain, vision problems, difficulty walking and bladder or bowel dysfunction, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. (Isn't it nice how the NMSS gets quoted for that line over and over and over and...yeah. We GET the symptoms. How about a cure?)
About 400,000 people in the United States have multiple sclerosis, and worldwide, the disease affects about 2.5 million people, according to the society. The disorder is generally first diagnosed in people between the ages of 20 and 50. (OK...help me out here. The NMSS has been quoting this "400,000" figure for over 10 years. So if the figure remains the same, but more WOMEN than men are now diagnosed, does this mean the MEN are just dying off while the women continue to GET MS and live longer??? Somebody help me out with this data please...)
For the current study, Cutter and his colleagues gathered data from a large database called the North American Research Committee on Multiple Sclerosis (NARCOMS), (I happen to like NARCOMS and I participate in their biannual reviews...but it's purely VOLUNTARY. I imagine more women than men would take the time to answer "test question-like" material, thus resulting in a higher female count. But that's just my opinion...and it comes from all the CHEATING males in high school and college that wanted to copy off my papers rather than write their own!) which includes information on almost 31,000 people with multiple sclerosis. Each volunteer provided semi-annual information regarding demographic and clinical information about their disease.
Almost three-quarters of the study population were female and 93 percent were white. (Don't even get me started here on the poverty/wage disparity between whites and other minorities. We "crackers" have more stuff like computers, etc., to fill out on line surveys!)
The researchers found that the ratio of women-to-men having the disease increased by about 50 percent each decade. The changes were more pronounced in people diagnosed at earlier ages, according to the researchers.
Cutter is expected to present his findings Tuesday at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting in Boston. (Dr. She Who Will Not Be Named is at this meeting as I type...I DO hope she is learning something!)
"This rapid change suggests that it's not just the disease behaving as usual," Cutter said. "It is unfortunate, but it is an opportunity and we can use this information to learn what directions we ought to pursue."
"This is an interesting phenomenon, and I'm not sure anyone knows why it's happening,' said Nicholas LaRocca, associate vice president of Health Care Delivery and Policy Research for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
He said the real question is, "Are more people being diagnosed with the disease or are more people actually developing the disease? In all probability, probably both things are operating." (The voice of friggin' reasoning...and he's FROM the NMSS!)
"It's always possible that in the past there may have been a tendency not to diagnose MS because clinicians couldn't offer a treatment," said LaRocca. "It could also be something biological that is increasing the number of people getting MS. Nobody knows if there is such a factor at work."
"This type of observational study -- while interesting and provocative -- probably raises more questions than it answers," LaRocca noted. (I am impressed. LaRocca probably won't be employed at the NMSS much longer)