There are many ideas about who is likely to get multiple sclerosis (MS). The disease is not contagious or directly inherited, but scientists have identified factors that may be associated with risk for MS. These include gender, genetics, age, geography, and ethnic background.
Based on the latest estimates, about 1,000,000 people suffer from MS in the United States
Worldwide, it’s estimated that about 2.3 million people have MS
MS occurs in different ethnic groups. This includes African Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanics. However, the most common ethnic group affected by MS is white people with Northern European ancestry. Certain areas have a higher concentration of people with MS. This may mean:
The region has a lot of people with similar genetics. These people could share genes that make them more likely to get MS
Conditions in the area could be the cause. For instance, MS is more common in colder regions further from the equator
It could be a combination of genetics and location
Genetic risk factors
Relapsing MS is at least 2 to 3 times more common in women than in men
If you have a parent or sibling with MS, you have a 2% to 4% chance of developing it
Being an identical twin with someone who has MS raises your risk to 25% to 30%
If you’re living with MS, it’s clear you’re not alone. There are many people who have already crossed the same hurdles as you. Learn how support groups can help you talk about your MS and meet others in a similar situation.