• Risk Factors

    Anyone may develop MS, but there are some general patterns that appear in those affected by the disease. Risk factors for MS include the following:

    • Viral or other infections: The way certain people's immune systems respond when attacking a viral infection may trigger MS. (The immune system incorrectly mounts an attack against healthy tissue while attacking the actual virus.)
    • Gender: Twice as many women as men have MS.
    • Age: The majority of MS patients are first diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50.
    • Genetic factors: MS can occur in families. According to recent research, there are two genetic variations associated with MS as reported by the International Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Consortium. Please read more about this topic at the National MS Society Web site
    • Ethnic background: MS occurs most commonly in people of northern European descent, especially those who are Scandinavian.
    • Environmental factors: Though it is not clearly understood how the environment affects a person's risk of developing MS, the disease is more common in those who grew up in a colder climate, as opposed to a tropical climate.
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