Although MS has always been more prevalent in females than in males, the gap between the two sexes has been steadily growing. In 1940, the number of women afflicted as compared to men was two to one. In the year 2000, on the other hand, the ratio grew to four to one.
"The results of this study are intriguing. MS is most frequently diagnosed in pre-menopausal women and this research reinforces questions surrounding the role of hormones in multiple sclerosis. The idea that lifestyle changes in women over the decades may play a part in multiple sclerosis is interesting, but further research is needed to explore this level of influence and its bearing on the prevalence of MS." - Chris Bentley, spokesman for Multiple Sclerosis Society
Researchers hope that this information will help them to better pinpoint potential causes of the disorder. More specifically, if researchers can identify what has changed in the lifestyles of women over the past 60 decades, they may very well be able to determine what triggers the disorder. Areas that are receiving a great deal of attention include birth control methods, changes in menstruation, increasing obesity rates, having children later in life, and smoking. Researchers will also take a closer look at those things that women tend to do more frequently than men, such as using cosmetics and hair dyes that may cause vitamin D absorption to be blocked.
Another oddity linked to the disorder is the fact that Scotland has proportionally more cases of MS than any other country in the world – another phenomenon that has yet to be explained.