Increased production of certain types of industrially produced foods – specifically of margarine, processed meat and sausage, jam and marmalade, chocolate and chocolate confectionary, sugar confectionary and beer – correlates statistically with an increased incidence of multiple sclerosis (MS). This conclusion from analysis of data from seven EU countries is presented today by the German epidemiologist Dr. Klaus Lauer at the 20th Meeting of the European Neurological Society (ENS) in Berlin. ”This data is not as yet evidence of a causal connection, but is a clear indication that such a connection may exist and thus should be closely investigated,” says Dr. Lauer.
In the course of a so-called ”ecological study”, the epidemiological analysis of data collected for major regions or population groups, data on industrial food production in seven EU countries were compared for possible MS correlation – with differing results.
A significantly higher incidence of MS was noted in countries with, per head of population, high production of margarine, processed meat and sausage, jam and marmalade, chocolate and chocolate confectionary, sugar confectionary and beer.
No statistical correlation was found between MS and the distribution of crude vegetable oils and fats, butter, cheese, condensed milk, canned vegetables, canned and bottled fruit, wheat flour, biscuits, beet sugar, cocoa powder, ice cream or for smoking and chewing tobacco, and snuff.
A lower incidence of MS was in fact observed in other countries with high production of canned fish and macaroni, spaghetti and similar products.
More thorough investigation urgently required
”Since ecological studies don’t investigate the individual but large groups, a direct causal relation cannot be deduced from them,” says Dr. Lauer. ”That requires more extensive studies of the individual to investigate whether those who later contract MS have in fact previously consumed more of a certain foodstuff than those who have remained healthy. But an epidemiological correlation, such as we have now detected, is in any case a serious indication of such a possibility, and it is imperative that it be followed up by thorough investigation.”