By Robert Groth
There are several recognized risk factors in Multiple Sclerosis, although there is not a definite known cause. These risk factors do not guarantee that you will be diagnosed with the disease, but they do increase your chances.
Heredity is the first of the known risk factors for Multiple Sclerosis. If no one has Multiple Sclerosis in your family, then your chances of having MS are only 1 in 750. Having a parent or sibling with MS increases the odds to 1 in 100. If you have an identical twin with MS, your chances are 1 in 4, although both twins do not always have MS. For this reason, many researchers believe that Multiple Sclerosis is not just a genetic disease, although heredity does affect the chances you will have it.
Environmental factors are the second risk factor for Multiple Sclerosis. Research shows that bacteria and viruses, especially at certain ages, can increase your chances of having MS. Alone these infections should not cause MS, but when combined with other risk factors for Multiple Sclerosis, especially heredity, they can greatly increase the odds of having it. The infections that could be related to MS are measles, herpes, chickenpox, rubella, mononucleosis, chlamydia, and some types of flu. These may have the most risk when they are contracted as a teenager.
Geography is the third risk factor in Multiple Sclerosis. For some unknown reason, MS is more common in temperate climates such as Europe, southern Canada, northern United States, and southeastern Australia. This geographical factor seems to be most important during puberty.
Gender is the fourth risk factor for Multiple Sclerosis. Women are 2 to 3 times more likely than men to have MS. This is believed to be due to hormonal differences. Men who smoke are twice as likely as men who do not smoke to be diagnosed with MS.
Age is the fifth risk factor for Multiple Sclerosis. Usually MS is diagnosed to people between 20 and 50. It is possible to be diagnosed during childhood or after the age of 50, but this age range seems to be the most critical.
The sixth risk factor in Multiple Sclerosis is giving cow’s milk to babies. This is a newly discovered risk, and the reasons are not yet known. It may be proven in the future to be in no way linked to MS. Pediatrician’s advise against cow milk for infants under one year of age, anyway, so it would be best to be careful. Breast milk is believed to be the best food for infants because it helps the brain develop faster and more fully. This may be the link between cow’s milk and MS, since the brain would not be as developed.
Heredity is probably the only risk factor for Multiple Sclerosis that may cause the disease on its own, but combining several of these factors together may greatly increase your odds. Since many of these things are beyond your control, if you meet several of these risk factors for Multiple Sclerosis, you may want to consult a doctor. At the least watch for any symptoms related to the disease. Anything you can due to reduce your chances or your loved one’s chances of meeting these risk factors for Multiple Sclerosis would be worth the effort.
© CG Groth 2007
Robert Groth, author and speaker was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1990. Receive more information and a free inspirational daily email on how you can beat multiple sclerosis at www.beatmultiplesclerosis.com
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