Multiple Sclerosis Risk Factors

Factors That Could Make You More Likely To Develop Multiple Sclerosis

Exactly what causes multiple sclerosis is not fully known at this time although researchers have identified key risk factors. These factors are often present in people who have the disease and could indicate you are more vulnerable than others are. Here are some of the factors that can increase your risk of developing multiple sclerosis.

Multiple Sclerosis Risk Factors


Your gender can actually increase the chances that you will get multiple sclerosis. Studies have shown that women are about twice and likely as men to contract the disease. The exact reason why this is a risk factor is not currently known although it might have to do with hormonal changes.


There seems to be a connection between multiple sclerosis and genetics. This means that if people in your family have developed multiple sclerosis, then you are at a higher risk of getting the disease. This is true whether you have one relative or multiple relatives that suffer from multiple sclerosis.

Specific Infections

Some of the causes of multiple sclerosis are linked to specific infections. Several viruses have been identified as being related to multiple sclerosis in some way. The most prominent is Epstein-Barr. This is a virus that produces the familiar condition called mononucleosis. Just getting an infection does not mean multiple sclerosis is imminent.


Your ethnicity is one of the most prominent risk factors for multiple sclerosis. Caucasian people are at the highest risk among all ethnicities. Specifically, people from Northern European countries are most vulnerable. People of other ethnicities like Asians or Africans have a much lower risk.

Certain Diseases

Diseases that affect your immune system can make developing multiple sclerosis more probable. Any autoimmune disorder will increase the risk. Thyroid disease will as well. People with Type 1 diabetes have a high risk. A final condition that can make you more vulnerable is inflammatory bowel disease.

Where You Live

Where you live can affect your risk of getting multiple sclerosis due to the climate. People who are living in fair weather or temperate parts of the world are more likely to develop the disease. Those in areas that are unusually cold or hot are not as vulnerable. Most of the United States is considered a temperate area.


Smokers of any type are at a high risk of developing a specific type of multiple sclerosis. Smokers can sometimes have a one-time experience that seems to be the disease. Those smokers have a high chance of developing something called relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis that can be debilitating.