Epidemiology of Multiple Sclerosis: From Risk Factors to Prevention-An Update

Semin Neurol. 2016 Apr;36(2):103-14. doi: 10.1055/s-0036-1579693. Epub 2016 Apr 26.


Although genetic susceptibility explains the clustering of multiple sclerosis (MS) within families and the sharp decline in risk with increasing genetic distance, it cannot fully explain the geographical variations in MS frequency and the changes in risk that occur with migration, which support the action of strong environmental factors. Among these, vitamin D status, obesity in early life, infection with the Epstein-Barr virus, and cigarette smoking are the most consistent environmental predictors of MS risk. The authors review the epidemiological data, critically discuss the evidence for causality of these and other associations, and briefly review the possibility of interventions to reduce MS risk.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Environment
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human
  • Humans
  • Multiple Sclerosis* / epidemiology
  • Multiple Sclerosis* / etiology
  • Multiple Sclerosis* / genetics
  • Risk Factors