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Risk of MS higher in African Americans than previously thought

Posted on: May 16, 2013   by  Vitamin D Council

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Recent research suggests that African Americans may be at higher risk of developing multiple sclerosis than previously thought. The new publication counters research that white people are at highest risk for MS.

MS is a detrimental, lifelong condition which results in loss of motor skills, deteriorating vision, muscle weakness, and more. Annette Langer-Gould, MD and colleagues conducted a retrospective cohort study identifying 500 newly diagnosed MS patients. The average age at diagnosis was 42 years and 70% of those diagnosed were women.

The researchers found a significantly higher incidence of MS among African Americans when compared to white, Hispanic, and Asian individuals with MS.

This is the second study to demonstrate the changing MS risk among African Americans. A 2012 study of military personal reported similar findings.

The authors explain,

“A possible explanation for our findings is that people with darker skin tones have lower vitamin D levels and thereby an increased risk of MS, but this would not explain why Hispanics and Asians have a lower risk of MS than whites.”

Source

Langer-Gould A, et al. Incidence of multiple sclerosis in multiple racial and ethnic groups. Neurology, 2013.

2 Responses to Risk of MS higher in African Americans than previously thought

  1. Rita and Misty

    Dear VDC, thank you for this very informative post.

    As those in the VDC community are certainly aware, the sunlight needs for people with darker skin pigmentation, living at higher latitudes, are immense and are not being met.

    For example, a lighter pigmented person standing in full sun can produce a day’s bodily requirement of Vitamin D in about 15 minutes.

    In stark contrast, a person with darker skin pigmentation, standing in the same spot, will need approximately 6–10 times more sun exposure to produce the same amount of vitamin D.

    According to reports by the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention, African American suffer greatly from chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, fibromyalgia, lupus, and obesity–diseases which may be effectively controlled or prevented with vitamin D supplementation.

    And now we have this information on multiple sclerosis….

    Unfortunately, many African Americans do not know about the health enhancing properties of vitamin D so their health continues to deteriorate.

    Despite the alarming health situation for African Americans, many conventional medical practitioners do not seem to be informing them that they may need to take at least 5,000 IU of vitamin D3, in supplement form, every day; and that children should also be given adequate amounts of vitamin D3 on a daily basis.

    This is because food and drinks do not supply adequate amounts of vitamin D.

    Again, thank you for this information, VDC. I’m always grateful for, and appreciate the value of, your work.

    I plan to share this VDC post on my FB page, and I hope others in the VDC community considering doing so as well.

    Be well,
    Rita

  2. Rebecca Oshiro

    “A possible explanation for our findings is that people with darker skin tones have lower vitamin D levels and thereby an increased risk of MS, but this would not explain why Hispanics and Asians have a lower risk of MS than whites.”

    One explanation for this is the presence of vitamin D-dependent genes that enhance the risk of developing MS. Future research may identify such genes in blacks that increase this risk. A genetic explanation of this sort has already been proposed for Northern European populations that have an increased risk of developing MS.

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