Person with MS and diabetes checking their blood sugar levels

Diabetes medication effect on MS risk

The risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS) in people with diabetes who take anti-hyperglycemic medication (A-HgM) is reduced in young people but increased for older adults and women in particular, according to a new study.

Some studies have found links between type 2 diabetes and an increased risk of MS, but the evidence is not clear. Now new research has found that in patients who were diagnosed before 45 with diabetes, the ones taking A-HgM were 78% less likely to get MS in the next year compared with patients not taking the medication.

But in those diagnosed after 45, taking A-HgM gave them a 36% higher risk of MS than those not on that medication.

Using data from a US insurance claims database called Mariner, the research team analysed 5 million people who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and then divided them into those diagnosed before 45, and those after.

The incidence of MS was still higher in the younger group when accounting for total population, “which is consistent with national trends and data for MD prevalence,” said the researchers.

What was interesting was that the increased risk in the older population was much more pronounced in women – 53% risk vs a 17% higher risk. The team speculated that changes in the immune system during menopause, as well as that both diabetes and MS are linked to a proinflammatory environment.

The study concluded that “both age and sex regulate response to A-HgM exposure to impact MS risk profiles. It will become increasingly important to understand the neuro-immunological changes that occur during the near-to-menopause transition and how these changes may affect brain health and disease risk in aging populations.