The Week of March 3rd through the 9th is MS Awareness Week Across the country and The Multiple Sclerosis Society says people everywhere are creating connections stronger than the ones MS destroys and Plattsburgh is on that list of connections.. In fact Mayor Jim Calnon read a proclamation adding Plattsburgh to the list of Municipalities participating in the weeklong awareness event..
While the cause of MS is still unknown – scientists believe that the interaction of several different factors may be involved. Studies continue in the areas of immunology, epidemiology and genetics to try to find answers, and scientists are also studying infectious agents that may play a role.
MS is known to occur more frequently in areas that are farther from the equator. Scientists studying the diseases pattern are looking at variations in geography, demographics , genetics, infectious causes and migration patterns in an effort to understand why this might be the case..
Growing evidence suggests that vitamin D plays an important role. People who live closer to the equator are exposed to greater amounts of sunlight year-round. As a result, they tend to have higher levels of naturally-produced vitamin D, which is thought to support the immune function and may help protect against immune-mediated diseases like MS. The possible relationship between MS and sunlight exposure is currently being looked at in a Society-funded epidemiological study in Australia.
The evidence is also growing that smoking plays an important role in MS. Studies have shown that smoking increases a person’s risk of developing MS and is associated with more severe disease and more rapid disease progression. Fortunately, the evidence also suggests that stopping smoking — whether before or after the onset of MS — is associated with a slower progression of disability.
One theory that has not produced any clear evidence as of yet is the idea that high numbers of cases of MS occurring in a specific time period or location may provide clues to environmental or genetic risk for the disease. So far, cluster studies in MS have not produced clear evidence for the existence of any causative or triggering factor or factors in MS.