Monday, April 25, 2011

Virus and low sunlight 'raises multiple sclerosis risk'

Low levels of sunlight coupled with glandular fever could increase the risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS), say researchers.

There are many suspected risk factors for MS and the disease is known to be more common away from the equator.

The study, in Neurology, suggested that low levels of sunlight could affect how the body responds to infection.

The MS Society said the study, based on hospital admissions data in England, added weight to existing evidence.

MS affects about 100,000 people in the UK and is more common in the north of England than in the south.

There are also high levels of both vitamin D deficiency and MS in Scotland, where the MS Society is considering carrying out separate research on a possible link between the two. Around 10,500 people have MS in the country, the highest prevalence of the condition in the world.

With MS the protective layer around nerves, known as the myelin sheath, becomes damaged. Messages from the brain to the rest of the body are disrupted, resulting in difficulty moving, muscle weakness and blurred vision. (read more)