People with type 2 diabetes who started using anti-hyperglycaemic drugs before the age of 45 are 22% less likely to develop multiple sclerosis compared to those starting these medications later in life, new research shows.

A new study has found that anti-hyperglycaemic drugs improve some of the symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Previously, scientists have conducted clinical trials using metformin as a treatment option for people living with MS.

According to the researchers, taking anti-hyperglycaemic drugs before the age of 45 can prevent the development of MS.

For those who start taking anti-hyperglycaemic drugs for the first time after the age of 45, they are 16% more at risk of developing the autoimmune condition, the study has reported.

Multiple sclerosis is a lifelong condition that affects the brain and spinal cord, causing a wide range of potential symptoms, including problems with vision, arm or leg movement, sensation or balance.

The autoimmune condition often causes serious disability, although in some cases it can be mild.

Prior studies have found that the lifelong condition affects women two to three times more than men.

In MS, the immune system attacks the layer that surrounds and protects the nerves called the myelin sheath.

This damages and scars the sheath, and potentially the underlying nerves, meaning that messages travelling along the nerves become slowed or disrupted.

During the trial, academics from the University of Arizona analysed the health outcomes of more than five million people, all of whom had type 2 diabetes.

Most of the adults taking part in the study were using anti-hyperglycaemic drugs, which included metformin, glitazones, sulphonylureas, DPP4 inhibitors and insulin.

They were then compared to participants not on any anti-hyperglycaemic medications to treat their type 2 diabetes.

The results show that sulfonylureas and metformin are the drugs that offer the highest level of protection against the autoimmune condition.

In addition, the findings have found that women are more at risk of developing MS due to the loss of estrogenic control of insulin during the menopause.

According to a previous study, people living with type 2 diabetes are also more at risk of being diagnosed with MS.

“It’s another risk factor that’s associated with MS. Though, it’s not the diabetes that causes it, but because you’re more likely to get other autoimmune conditions, it’s more likely to happen to someone who’s got diabetes,” said the authors.

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