MONDAY, May 30 (HealthDay News) -- Although stress can exacerbate multiple sclerosis (MS), it doesn't actually increase a person's risk for developing the disease in the first place, new research indicates.

Researchers followed two groups of more than 100,000 nurses each, ranging in age from 24 to 55, from the Nurses Health Study at two separate intervals. Those examined were asked about their levels of stress both at home and at work, as well as any stress stemming from childhood physical and sexual abuse.

After taking other factors into account, such as age, ethnicity and smoking, researchers found stress did not increase the women's risk for developing MS.

The study, published in the May 30 issue of Neurology, did find the risk of MS is particularly high among young women. Researchers noted their findings could help guide future research into the specific causes of the disease.

"This rules out stress as a major risk factor for MS. Future research can now focus on repeated and more fine-tuned measures of stress," study author Trond Riise, of the University of Bergen in Norway, said in a news release from the American Academy of Neurology. Riise conducted the research while he was a visiting scholar at the Harvard School of Public Health.

More information

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has detailed information on risk factors for MS.