Most of us know someone who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, also known as MS. As physicians, we know lots of people, but also as family members, we have too many afflicted with the disease. It is a potentially horrendous disease that attacks the immune system and our bodies’ own nerves. But what we don’t know about MS is what causes the disease?
The Journal of Neurology did a study that aimed to look at what factors cause MS to develop. They looked at seven years’ worth of data and tried to link certain geographic areas, and factors about those areas, to the rates of MS. They found that areas in the country that have a relatively lower amount of sunlight, and those areas with higher rates of mononucleosis (caused by the Epstein Barr Virus), also had higher rates of MS. We also know that lower sunlight is linked with lower levels of vitamin D.
While it’s tempting to jump to conclusions based on one piece of research, to say we should get more sun exposure and Vitamin D, or avoid exposure to mononucleosis and the Epstein Barr Virus, this is way too premature. For instance, 95% of us will be exposed to this virus sometime in our lives
There is no doubt it’s exciting to think we have some links to developing an explanation for MS, but this study only shows us that vitamin D and mono may have roles in MS. So for now, we wouldn’t recommend you make any changes based on this study until further studies are conducted.