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Multiple Sclerosis (MS) - What Increases Your Risk

Your risk for multiple sclerosis (MS) increases with:

  • Geographic location, or where you lived during childhood (up to age 15). People who spend the first 15 years of their lives in colder climates that are farther away from the equator tend to be more likely to get MS than people who lived closer to the equator during those years.
  • Family history of MS. About 15 out of 100 people who have MS have a relative with MS, most often a brother or sister.2
  • Certain genetic characteristics associated with the immune system. These appear more frequently in people who have MS. This may mean that there are one or more genes that may increase the chance of getting MS.
  • Race. People of Western European ancestry are more likely to get MS.
  • Being female. MS is about 3 times as common in women as in men.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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