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Thread: MS cause

  1. #1

    MS cause

    Are there any posts related to the potential causes of MS? Lately I have been reading a lot about Vitamin D (and lack of) being a cause and I am trying to find more information on this.

  2. #2
    Senior Member willingtocope's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Pleasant Hill Iowa
    Actually, no one knows what causes MS. In fact, there are at least 4 recognized variations, and probably many more conditions that could be mistaken for MS.

    For the most part, MS is a diagnosis of exclusion...."well, its not X, so it must be MS".

  3. #3
    As far as pathophysiology theories, the best scientifically supported is that MS is an autoimmune disease that is triggered by some type of infectious agent (virus? prion? bacteria?) to which you must have a genetic vulnerability. There is good evidence that your vulnerability is increased by vitamin D deficiency, but that alone is not an explaination for its development, as not all people with MS have that problem.

    There are genetic does run in some families. Strongest appears to be Scandanavia descent, or descent from people whose native lands were invaded by Vikings in the Middle Ages (the "Viking Factor"), but it is not purely genetic. For example, in identical twins, only 30% of the time do both twins get it if one does. If you have a parent with MS, your risk is about 1 in 50. It is rare in pure Africans, but more common in African Americans who nearly all have some caucasian ancestors. It is also relatively rare in Inuits, Asias, and Native Americans, but still appears in those populations.

    It also develops at a higher rate in those who were born and lived North (or South) of the 40th parallel through adolescence. For example, there is 5X the rate of MS in those from Boston vs. Miami, and for Seattle vs. Los Angeles. The theory is that the unknown infectious agent lives or is transmitted easier in colder climates.

    Damage usually starts with a breakdown of myelin (unknown trigger) which then allows "short circuits" of the nerves, and eventually damage to the axons themselves. The most common sites of this breakdown form "plaques" which can usually be seen on MRI, and are most commonly associated with the ventricles in the brain, brain stem, and optic tracts, but can also cause spinal cord lesions.


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