Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory disease in which the fatty sheath around nerves, called myelin, deteriorate and/or become scarred. The disease affects the ability of the nerves between the brain and spinal cord to communicate thus resulting in loss of cognitive ability and physical functioning.
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It occurs more prevalently in women and onset is usually in young adults but can occur at any age. There is no cure, only treatment.
A new study just released yesterday by the American Academy of Neurology suggests there may be a link between the disease “mono” caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, low sunlight and an increased risk of contracting MS. The study was conducted in the United Kingdom over a period of seven years and a physician involved in the study had this to say:
â€œMS is more common at higher latitudes, farther away from the equator,â€ said George C. Ebers, MD, with the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. â€œSince the disease has been linked to environmental factors such as low levels of sun exposure and a history of infectious mononucleosis, we wanted to see whether the two together would help explain the variance in the disease across the United Kingdom.â€ [snip] â€œItâ€™s possible that vitamin D deficiency may lead to an abnormal response to the Epstein-Barr virus,â€ Ebers said.
According to BBC News Health MS affects roughly 100,000 people in the UK and is more common in the north than in the south. The study used 56,681 MS cases and 14,621 cases of mono along with data from NASA on sunlight intensity.
The study found that adding the effects of sunlight exposure and mononucleosis together explained 72 percent of the variance in the occurrence of MS across the United Kingdom. Sunlight exposure alone accounted for 61 percent of the variance.
Dr. Ebers stated it’s possible low vitamin D in the body may lead to an abnormal response by the body to mono. He stressed the importance of a study to help determine whether or not vitamin D supplements and exposure to UVB light may decrease the number of those contracting MS.
I questioned a friend of mine who is a neurologist, belongs to the American Academy of Neurology, receives their journals and sees many MS patients. He stated to me it is true that the the Epstein-Barr virus may be found incorporated into MS patients yet a cause-effect relationship has not been fully established. Or is it, because the immune system is affected in those patients? We have yet to know this or fully understand.