Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis Risk Factors

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The 8 Biggest Risk Factors of Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a devastating condition that affects millions of people worldwide. This autoimmune disease harms the central nervous system, causing a variety of conditions. The exact causes of MS are unknown, but it is linked to many genetic and environmental factors. Here are some of the biggest risk factors of MS.

1. Location

Multiple studies have concluded that people who live far away from the earth’s equator are much more likely to get MS. It is theorized that people living near the equator get more sunlight and therefore have more vitamin D. Some studies suggest that taking vitamin D supplements can lessen chances of getting MS.

2. Birthday

If you have a birthday in the spring, you have a greater risk for developing MS. This might also have something to do with vitamin D levels, since women who are pregnant during the winter and give birth in the spring have lower vitamin D levels.

3. Gender

Women are four times more likely to develop MS than men. While women may be more likely to get MS, men often have more severe cases of the disease. This risk factor may have something to do with higher protein or hormone levels in women.

4. Ethnicity

People who have a northern European background have a much larger risk of getting MS. People who have African, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American ancestors are less likely to get the disease. Tribal groups such as the Inuit, Maoris, and Australian Aborigines almost never develop MS.

5. Age

Though MS can technically affect people of all ages, certain age groups are more likely to have MS. People between the ages of 20 to 50 are more likely to have MS. While some seniors do get MS, it is extremely unlikely for children.

6. Medical History

Certain conditions and viruses have been linked to an increase in MS. People who have had mononucleosis are more likely to have MS. Type 1 diabetes, thyroid disease, and inflammatory bowel syndrome also increase your chances of getting MS.

7. Smoking

Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for MS. You are 5 times more likely to develop MS if you smoke several packs of cigarettes each day. Unfortunately, even being an ex-smoker can increase MS risks. However, if you already have MS, it will progress slower if you stop smoking.

8. Family History

Since MS is affected by genetics, you are more likely to have it if you have family members with it. The risk for people who have close family members with MS is 1 in 40.