Photo: Researcher in the lab concentrating on his research

MS and dementia - what's the evidence?

New research has suggested a link between dementia and 18 autoimmune conditions, including MS.

However, the researchers note that it's only a small increase in the risk of anyone – with or without an autoimmune condition – developing dementia.

More research needed

The researchers admit that while they did find an association, it was a small one. More research is needed to confirm the results. The researchers used NHS records to identify people who had been admitted to hospital with an autoimmune condition, including MS. They then went back to see if these people were more likely to be admitted for dementia later on.

This type of study can help to suggest links between conditions, but it can’t account for other risk factors that may confuse the results. It also doesn’t say anything about whether one condition causes another or if there is an association for another reason.

"Our findings should be considered as indicative rather than definitive," the authors caution.

Small differences

Imogen Scott-Plummer, our Head of Care and Services Research, said:

"We'd urge people with MS not to worry when they read this research. The study talks about very small differences in the chance of being admitted to hospital for dementia and it doesn't mean that people with MS should be doing anything different.”

>> Read about emerging areas of MS research