How Do You Get Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?

As
I mentioned in my article about what Multiple Sclerosis is, MS is an autoimmune
disease, meaning the body’s immune system malfunctions and starts attacking
itself. With Multiple Sclerosis in particular, the immune system attacks the
protective coating around the nerves (myelin) in the central nervous system,
which consists of the brain, optic nerves, and the spinal cord.
Multiple
Sclerosis is not a virus so it can not be caught; MS is not contagious!  According to
mainstream medicine the cause of MS is currently unknown but most people
(including a lot of doctors) believe that Multiple Sclerosis is caused by a
combination of different (but still unknown) factors.
Though
it is not yet completely accepted by everyone to be fact, it is pretty obvious
to most people that MS has a lot to
do with genetics. The most likely scenario is that some people have a genetic
predisposition for developing Multiple Sclerosis and this genetic
“switch” is triggered by an environmental factor of some sort that
activates this autoimmune disease.
Think
of this scenario; we have a set of identical twins but only one
of these twins develops MS. Perhaps both
twins have the genetic switch but only one twin was exposed to the right environmental
trigger that “switched” their “MS gene” on.  That would explain why both twins do not have MS even though some twins do. I have met
examples of both online!
So
there are many different theories on what types of environmental factors could
contribute to MS but the most commonly talked about theories are diet, location, and climate. There is a higher
incidence of MS in certain areas of the world such as northern Europe or the
northern USA, especially in areas further from the
equator. This is believed to be due to the fact that people get less sun
exposure causing a Vitamin D deficiency. Most MS patients (including myself)
seem to have a Vitamin D deficiency for whatever reason. I grew up in sunny
Southern California so perhaps even if you are in the sun as much as the
average person, your body just can’t absorb Vitamin D as well? But let’s also
consider a state like Washington in the northwest corner of the USA; they have
one of the highest incident rates of MS in the nation and anyone who has seen
the movie “Twilight” knows that Washington gets no sun! So whether you can’t
get it or absorb it there definitely seems to be a connection to Vitamin D
deficiency.
The
image below shows where Multiple Sclerosis is more prevalent in the world. The
numbers may not be up to date but it still illustrates how the closer to the
equator you get the lower the numbers seem to be.
Many
studies also seem to point to diet as a contributing factor in Multiple
Sclerosis. As humans evolved over time we started eating things that were not
available to us when we first started out as a species. As our diet changed
faster than we could evolve to handle it, it looks as though Multiple Sclerosis
started making it’s first appearances around the world where ever we started
processing food or consuming things like dairy products that were not available
to ancient man. In parts of the world that are behind in this dietary
evolution, Multiple Sclerosis is not as common. In areas like Asia and Japan
where fish (high in Omega-3, an anti-inflammatory fatty acid) is regularly
consumed in the diet, there is a significantly lower occurrence of Multiple
Sclerosis. MS obviously causes inflammation in the body so it’s thought that
eating inflammatory food can make symptoms worse and eating anti-inflammatory foods can make
symptoms better. Whether you choose to believe any of the many dietary theories
or not, the evidence is hard to ignore.
Of
course you will also read about some of the “crazier” theories (as some might call them) like mercury exposure from fish or tooth fillings but I can punch a hole in that one pretty
quick; I never ate fish growing up and I never had any fillings. Another
popular theory is CCSVI (Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency) where it
is believed that Multiple Sclerosis is not an autoimmune disease but in fact a vascular disease that causes a narrowing
of the veins in the neck. Blood can’t get out of the brain as fast as it gets
in causing the symptoms of MS. Many patients swear that the CCSVI treatment is the cure for MS but most people
can see that the evidence for CCSVI is weak at best…
Bottom
line, Multiple Sclerosis is not contagious and you can not
catch it nor is there anything we know of that you can do to avoid contracting
the disease. There is no cure for MS. Most doctors and researchers who are
proactive in the world of MS accept that there are genetic factors involved. We
are pretty sure my grandmother had Multiple Sclerosis but she passed away
before she ever got a diagnosis. So with all that said, it’s kind of a matter
of chance so go ahead and put your gas masks away!

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