(HealthDay News) — High sodium intake is associated with increased disease activity in multiple sclerosis (MS), according to research published online August 28 in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

Mauricio F. Farez, MD, MPH, of the Raul Carrea Institute for Neurological Research in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and colleagues conducted an observational study of a cohort of 70 patients with relapsing-remitting MS. The authors sought to assess the effect of salt consumption on clinical and radiological disease activity in MS. Sodium intake was estimated from sodium excretion in urine samples, and patients were followed for two years.

The researchers found that, compared with the low-intake group, exacerbation rates for MS were higher in patients with medium sodium intake (2.75-fold higher) or high sodium intake (3.95-fold higher). MS patients with high sodium intake were 3.4 times more likely to develop a new lesion on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and, on average, had eight more T2 lesions on MRI than those with low sodium intake.

“Our findings suggest that clinical trials with a salt intake reduction as an intervention are needed to establish whether sodium intake control benefits patients with MS,” the authors write.

Pharmaceutical companies contributed funding to the study. Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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