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New Study: Weight Loss Surgery Appears to Affect Course of MS, Shortening Time to Disability Progression

July 20, 2022

Researchers at the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm found that MS tended to progress faster in a study involving 122 people who underwent bariatric surgery for weight loss, compared with people with MS who did not undergo surgery.
  • Obesity is common in the general population of the U.S., and is associated with a higher risk of many health issues. In MS, obesity has been linked to increased relapses and disease progression. Gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries — known collectively as bariatric surgery — involve making changes to your digestive system to help you lose weight when diet and exercise haven't worked. In a previous study, this team showed similar weight loss at 2 years after bariatric surgery in people with MS and people without MS, and no significant differences in complications after surgery.
  • Researchers examined data from the Scandinavian Obesity Surgery Registry and the Swedish MS Registry, identifying 122 people with MS who had undergone bariatric surgery and matching them to people with MS who had similar characteristics but had not undergone surgery.
  • There were no differences in annual relapse rates and time to first relapse after surgery in those who had the surgery and those who did not have surgery. However, the time to disability progression during the first five years after surgery was on average shorter in people who had surgery.
  • Further research is necessary to confirm these results. The authors speculate that the surgical procedure might trigger immune system activity that can worsen MS, or that nutritional deficiencies known to occur after bariatric surgery may have contributed. People with MS who have had the procedure or are scheduled to have it are encouraged to contact their healthcare provider if they have concerns about this study.
Learn more…
Obesity is considered a modifiable risk factor – learn more about healthy eating and taking control of your weight. Get information on food planning during the coronavirus pandemic from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The impact of bariatric surgery on disease activity and progression of multiple sclerosis: A nationwide matched cohort study” by Hedström Anna Karin , Stenberg Erik , Spelman Tim , Forsberg Lars, Näslund Erik and Hillert Jan is

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis, and there is currently no cure for MS. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and it affects women three times more than men.


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