While the cause for the disease is not yet known, there are speculations that it is a genetic condition.
A new study reveals that there might be a link between low vitamin D levels and MS. While the theory is not entirely new, it has not been possible to prove it until now.
There have been other studies that looked at the relationship between vitamin D and MS but no direct cause has been found.
“The problem with these sorts of studies is that they are quite likely to be confounded because individuals who use supplements and are concerned about their health in general often undertake other healthy behaviours. ” said Dr. Brent Richards, who is an associate professor at McGill University in Montreal and co-author of the study.
He also added that reverse causation could also relate Vitamin D to MS, because patients who suffer from the disease tend to spend more time indoors, which lowers the level of vitamin D in their body.
The team of Canadian researchers looked at the data of 34,000 people from another study and identified four genetic markers that were associated with low vitamin D levels.
Afterwards, they looked at another group of 14,500 people who suffered from multiple sclerosis and analyzed the link between these genetic variants and the risk of developing the disease.
They discovered that people who had at least one of these genetic variants were more inclined to develop multiple sclerosis due to their vitamin D deficiency.
Given the fact that there is no way to control whether or not a person inherits the low vitamin D genes, the idea that MS is caused by lifestyle factors is thus eliminated: “It’s not influenced by lifestyle and also cannot be influenced by reverse causation because if you get multiple sclerosis, this will not change your genes,” said Dr. Richards.
The study is an important step forward, given the fact that now experts have reasons to test whether taking vitamin D supplements can be useful in either preventing or treating multiple sclerosis.
The results of the study were published in the prestigious journal PLOS Medicine on August 26.
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