All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for January 2004

Gray Skies Might Be Reason For Higher MS Rates In Northwest

January 13, 2004
Emily Langlie

Seattle is known for it's gray skies, and now a new study says that lack of sunlight may explain our higher rates of multiple sclerosis -- The Pacific Northwest has the highest rate of MS in the nation.

Sunlight triggers Vitamin D production, and thus, lack of sun can equal lack of Vitamin D.

Lyn Laielli was diagnosed with MS nearly 20 years ago. She grew up in Poulsbo.

"It makes sense to me that if I'd had more sunshine on my head, and more Vitamin D, this might not be a condition that I'm dealing with," Laielli said.

MS is a neurological disease that attacks the central nervous system, disabling twice as many women as men.

A study of nurses showed those who took a multivitamin with Vitamin D cut their risk of MS by 40 percent. The study jibes with geographic data.

"They definitely find the further away from the equator the higher the rates of MS," said Erin Pozanski with the National MS Society. "And here in Washington, we are a lot further away from the equator than Texas or southern states."

Nationwide, 100 people out of 100,000 will be diagnosed with MS. But in western Washington, the rate jumps to 150-200 people in every 100,000. In the southern states, the rate is just 50 out of 100,000.

Vitamin D is in most multi-vitamins and in calcium supplements as well. But be aware -- you can take too much.

"Yes, you can overdose on Vitamin D," said Beverly Shaeffer with Katterman's Pharmacy. "This is not case where if a little is good a lot is better."

The study does not mention if Vitamin D can change the course of MS. The MS society says to check with your doctor before starting any Vitamin D supplements.

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