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Who Gets MS?

 

 


 


Approximately 400,000 individuals have been diagnosed with MS in the United States and as many as two and a half million worldwide, with an estimated 10,000 new cases diagnosed in the United States annually. Most people with MS experience their first symptoms and are diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 50.

The distribution of this disease is not totally random. On average, women are three times as likely than men to develop MS. Additionally, the occurrence of this disorder is positively correlated with latitude. People living beyond the 40-degree mark north or south of the equator are far more likely to develop MS than those living in the warmer climates near the equator. This is especially true for people in North America, Europe, and southern Australia, while Asia continues to have a low incidence of MS. More prevalent among those of northern European or Scandinavian ancestry, Caucasians are far more likely than those of African heritage to develop this disease.

While MS is not contagious or hereditary, MS susceptibility is increased if a family member has MS. The average risk of developing MS in the United States is one in 1,000, or one tenth of one percent. For first-degree relatives (such as a child or sibling), the risk increases to three or four percent. This is not true for adopted children or half siblings (who do not share the same parent who has MS), whose risk is the same as unrelated individuals. In instances where one identical twin has been diagnosed with MS, the other twin has a 31 percent risk of developing the disease. The risk for twins who are not identical is five percent - similar to that of other siblings.

Another factor linked to MS is cigarette smoking. Women who smoke are 1.6 times more likely to develop MS than women who are non-smokers. Additionally, individuals with MS who smoke appear to be at a much greater risk of experiencing a quicker progression of their disease.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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