Dr Alberto Ascherio Discusses Modifiable Factors Associated With MS Progression

Alberto Ascherio, MD, DrPh, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School, discusses the fact that, in addition to other modifiable factors linked with progression of multiple sclerosis (MS), dietary factors are also emerging as potentially related to outcomes.


What are modifiable factors that are associated with MS progression?
Well, in addition to the factors that we just discussed, the possibility that alpha-linolenic acid could also be important is quite interesting. People have been looking mostly fish oil. Alpha-linolenic is related to fish oil, but it's different. This omega 3 fatty acid is found in vegetables, in some vegetable oil and walnuts and soybean oil. And the evidence is accumulating that it could be associated with better outcomes in MS.

We are looking at the level of alpha-linolenic acid in blood, in participants in a large trial, the BENEFIT trial, to determine whether they're associated with MS outcomes. And that's a particularly interesting study because the patients have been followed up to 11 years, and they will also have 15 years of follow-up. So we will be able to relate the plasma level of alpha-linolenic acid with long-term outcomes.
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