Who is at Risk?

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Anyone can develop MS, and it is the most common disease of the CNS in young adults.1 MS is estimated to affect more than 2 million people around the world.1 It is thought that the risk of getting MS is about 1 in 1000 for the general population, rising to 20 to 40 per 1000 if a close family member such as a parent, brother or sister, is affected by MS.2

MS is about 3 times more common in women, and symptoms usually become noticeable some time between the ages of 18 and 45.2

Where people live also affects their risk for MS. It is more common in regions populated by Northern Europeans, rarer in the populations of Africa and Central America, and almost unheard of in China.3,4

1. Jones JL, Coles AJ. New treatment strategies in multiple sclerosis. Exp Neurol. 2010;225:34-39.
2. Courtney AM, Treadaway K, Remington G, Frohman E. Multiple sclerosis. Med Clin North Am. 2009;93:451-476
3. Compston A, Coles A. Multiple sclerosis. Lancet. 2008;372:1502-1517.
4. Ramagopalan SV, Dobson R, Meier UC, Giovannoni G. Multiple sclerosis: risk factors, prodromes, and potential causal pathways. Lancet Neurol. 2010;9:727-739.