In Multiple Sclerosis (MS) a person’s own immune system attacks the myelin as if it were a foreign body in the same way our immune system might attack a virus or bacteria.
Why might our immune system attack the myelin?
The reasons could be:
– Some studies have shown that the genes we inherit from our parents may
impact on our risk of developing multiple sclerosis. If you have a parent
or grandparent who has/d MS, your risk of developing it yourself is
greater than average.
Experts believe that there are several genes involved in multiple sclerosis risk. Scientists believe that a set of a persons gene variants as well as exposure to some environmental triggers affect the immune system of some people. This can eventually lead to MS symptoms.
We are probably not that far from identifying those gene variants. The largest multiple sclerosis genetic study ever undertaken, involving 250 scientists from around the world and led by the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford, reported in the journal Nature in August 2011 that over 50 genes had been identified and associated with MS.
– MS prevalence varies according to geographical area and population groups.
Multiple sclerosis is much more common in areas farther away from the
equator. MS is more common in northern Europe than southern Europe,
northern USA than southern USA. One school of thought is that people
farther away from the equator get less exposure to sunlight. It seems that
the more exposure to sunlight we have, the lower our MS risk is.
The more sunlight we are exposed to, the less likely we are to have low levels of vitamin D – therefore, long-term vitamin D levels probably play a role in multiple sclerosis risk.
In the USA, white people have a higher risk of developing multiple sclerosis than other racial groups; regardless of geographical location.
Studies indicate that people who move from a higher-risk area to a lower-risk one only acquire the risk of the new area if they move before they reach adolescence. This means that there is something in the environment we are exposed to early in life which influences risk.
Exposure to a toxic substance, such as a heavy metal or solvent has been suggested, but no clear conclusions have been reached.
It is unlikely there is just one trigger, experts say, but rather multiple sclerosis is probably triggered by multiple factors.
– doctors and researchers have often mentioned viruses, such as Epstein-Barr
(mononucleosis), varicella zoster, as possible MS triggers; however, this
theory has not been backed up scientifically Too much salt
-Some researchers have suggested that the excessive consumption of salt
might increase our risk of developing multiple sclerosis.
The bottom line is that no one knows the cause of MS. As you can see above there are many theories but none of them have been demonstrated scientifically at this point.
Research is constantly continuing to find a cause because it is believed that if a cause is found then it will make finding a cure easier. Unfortunately this can take years to come to fruition.