Ask the Experts: Multiple Sclerosis Risks and Causes

The cause of multiple sclerosis, a disease of the immune system, is unknown, but some believe there are genetic and environmental factors. In this video, Tanya Altman, MD, reveals some risk factors, like age and gender.

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Transcript

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[MUSIC PLAYING] What causes some people to get multiple sclerosis is unknown,
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but it's considered to be an autoimmune disease where a person's own immune system attacks healthy cells.
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In MS, those healthy cells are the myelin coating around the nerves that act like the rubber insulation
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around electrical wires. Experts believe that some combination of genetics and environmental factors leads to MS,
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but they don't know what those factors are or how to prevent the disease. MS can affect people of any age but is
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most common between ages 15 60. And women are twice as likely to get it as men.
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If one of your family members has it, your odds of getting MS is higher. Although smoking doesn't necessarily
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put you at risk for developing MS, smoking after a diagnosis can make the disease worse.
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And some viruses like the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes mono, has been looked at as a possible cause of MS. Regardless of what
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causes the disease, there are several effective treatments that can make living with MS manageable.

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