Friday, February 21, 2014

Is Multiple Sclerosis Hereditary?

One of the most common questions related to this disease is whether multiple sclerosis is hereditary or not. Multiple sclerosis is more common in people who have a family member diagnosed with this condition, but specialists cannot say that MS is a hereditary disease. Some studies have shown that MS is up to 8 times more common in people with a first degree relative suffering from multiple sclerosis. Moreover, identical twins have a 300 times increased risk of getting MS if the other twin had the disease.



The incidence of multiple sclerosis varies a lot from one country to another. This has lead specialists to the belief that hereditary conditions cannot be responsible, at least not alone, for the diagnosis of MS. Specialists claim that there are many other factors which can favor the development of this disease.

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Immunologic factors may play an important role in MS development, too. It is considered that multiple sclerosis is an immune-mediated or an autoimmune condition. MS is caused when the immune system attacks the myelin that covers the nerves. When this happens, the sheaths around the nerves are destroyed by the immune system, which recognizes them as harmful for the body. This is why some specialists say that the underlying cause of MS actually lies in a damaged immune system.

MS is more common in areas that are farther from the Equator. It is believed that this happens due to a role that Vitamin D may have in the development of multiple sclerosis. Certain infections, autoimmune diseases and other conditions can raise the risk of MS development. Specialists also claim that an unhealthy lifestyle can favor MS. However, lifestyle is not a risk factor for the development of the disease, but it is a well known fact that healthy lifestyle reduces the risk of health damage, in general.

So, scientists believe that there is a combination of factors that lead to MS forming. Is multiple sclerosis hereditary? Multiple sclerosis cannot be classified as a hereditary disease, even though specialists say that it is partially hereditary. However, experience has shown that people with close relatives who have battled MS at some point, have a higher risk of being diagnosed with this condition.

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