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Risk Factors for Developing Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that can have varying neurological symptoms from one patient to the next – ranging from minor disturbances in some patients to loss of coordination and the ability to walk.

The Mayo Clinic says MS destroys the coating of nerves and spinal cord (the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells). Losing this coating, called myelin, means the signals traveling along the nerve can be disrupted. While advancements are being made to manage the disease, the exact cause still isn’t known. However, here are six risk factors for developing MS…

1. Race and Climate

Your ethnicity and where you live seem to have a big impact on the incidence of MS. The Mayo Clinic explains white people of Northern European descent are the highest risk group, while those of Asian, African and Native American background are in the lowest risk groups.

Meanwhile, MS is more prevalent in countries that have a temperate climate – namely the northern U.S., New Zealand, southeastern Australia and Europe, notes the source. The disease is also relatively common in Canada based on population. Those who move from a low-risk area of the world to a higher-risk area in childhood will face the same risk levels as others who are native to the country, sources add.

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