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I have a half brother with MS and a few other risk factors, how at risk...
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I have a half brother with MS and a few other risk factors, how at risk am I?

Hello everyone,

I've been reading some information lately about risk factors of multiple sclerosis that are scaring me.  I am a 23 year old male from northern California, and I have a half brother who is about 20 years older than me who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis about 10 years ago.  Almost all my ancestry is from Northern Europe (English, Irish, Swedish, German).  I recently read that normally, people's chances of getting MS are about 1 in 800, yet those with a sibling or half sibling have a 1 in 30 risk.  I also read that those with European ancestry are 5 times more likely to get MS.  Would this make me have a 5 in 30 risk (about 1 in 6)?.  I am also an ex smoker, I smoked 7 years between the ages of about 15-22. I read smoking is an independent risk factor.

I usually don't post these types of questions, but I afraid of getting this disease.  My brother has been temporarily unable to walk numerous times (had to use a wheelchair) and even lost his ability to practice surgery (he is an orthopedic surgeon).  It has affected his life greatly and I would be scared to death if I got MS too.  I have a history of depression and I get stressed very easily, and I hear that's another risk factor, which might be why I am posting this too.   Just knowing that I have all these risk factors concerns me greatly.  I know there is no way of predicting who gets MS, but I just wanted some input from people who have it or who have family who have it.  Are my risk factors high?  Is there a way to find out how at risk I am?   Thanks for your time and god bless.
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3 Comments Post a Comment
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198419_tn?1360245956
Hi Andrew,

Thanks for joining us. You can't control getting MS and you are young and need to live your life. I think you may already know where to leave your fears :) just need a reminder.

Ok, so a little help convincing is order.  Being male, your risk already lower than the majority. I hope that makes you feel better. Also, these are your 1/2 siblings, decreasing your odds even further. I don't believe it's the same stat as sibling or twin.

You have read a couple good stats especially ref the 1 and 800 general population ratio.   At your age, smoking should not make a difference at all. I was dx'd older than that and smoked longer than you. It's ok - but, quit if you can while you are young because as you mention it's not good for MS (or anything for that matter).  It's nice to see you did your homework and happened upon some solid information. There is a lot of bad information on the www and MS is not excluded.

I'm so sorry for what your brother has lost and it's reasonable for you to see that and be fearful. How are his spirits?

In the end, I don't think your odds are higher than anyone elses here. And, if you should be among the population who gets it, don't fret. Disease modifying drugs have changed the course of MS for many. And, we're still here is that is any consolation to you.

This discussion may help too:
http://www.medhelp.org/posts/Multiple-Sclerosis/Genetics-of-MS/show/923576

see you around,
Shell
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1453990_tn?1329235026
I may have this messed up, but 1:4 is for identical twins.  1:100 for a first order (sibling /parent).  1:750-800 for the general population. Geographic and ethnic factors are included in the cohort.  

Since you only share one parent in common with you 1/2 brother (and you might only have 1/4 shared DNA alleles) that might move you into the realm of 1:450 like a 2nd order relative.    To put that in perspective, your overall lifetime odds of dying as a occupant in a car in 1999 was  1 in 244.  http://www.purewatergazette.net/oddsofdying.htm.

The good news is MS won't kill you. I wouldn't worry about a genetic predisposition too much.

Bob
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1253197_tn?1331212710
If you have no symptoms and are feeling well then I would really suggest that you do not waste time worrying about something that appears fairly unlikely to happen based on answers above.  It sounds to me as if you have a bit of a tendency to worry and I can understand when you see your half brother, that these thoughts must go through your head, but just do not let them take over. You are a young man aged 23 with his life ahead of him, so try and look to the positive things and put this worry away.

Best wishes

Sarah
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