|"Hey! What about us?!"|
In general, I prefer to make statements with little or no supporting evidence (as long as there's no one more knowledgeable in the room who might correct me). In this case, though, I have a few readers who probably know a lot more than I do. So I'll try to keep my facts straight, or at least base any statements I make on things I've read in vaguely reputable sources. Things such as:
(1) As a Caucasian female in a northern climate, K. already has some strikes against her. According to some guy who appears to teach an anthropology course at Michigan State University, "...in addition to MS being most common among Caucasians, it is also two to three times more likely to occur in white females."
(2) My having MS increases her risk of getting it. The National MS Society says this: "While the risk of developing MS in the general population is 1/750, the risk rises to 1/40 in anyone who has a close relative...with the disease."
(3) She was born in the spring. Huh? This was news to me. My sister sent me an article (you can read it by clicking here) that says the month in which you were born can play a role in your chances of developing an autoimmune disorder. Here's a quote from the article: "Many patients with MS are born in the spring, and rates of the disease are lowest for those born in November." I was born in March; my niece, in May. (Interestingly, my sister was born in November. Seeing any signs of favoritism here, people? I know I am....)
Without wanting my niece to become a raving hypochondriac (like some people we know), I am wracking my brain for things she might or might not do to help level the playing field a bit. At least they might tip the scales back a little in her favor, as there's not a thing she can do about having me for an aunt or the fact that her parents so rudely had her in May.
Here's my much-too-short list (and please remember, people, I'm not a doctor, I'm just a cranky blogger):
(1) Don't smoke. Now, did I listen to my parents, who told me not to smoke? Ummm, no. I thought it was fun and cool and most of my friends were doing it. But there is evidence that smoking makes MS worse, and can perhaps even trigger it. If I'd never started smoking, who knows? Maybe I wouldn't be giving myself shots every night and worrying that one day I won't be able to walk.
(2) Get some sun but not TOO much sun. Oh, this one's exasperating. Too much sun and she'll be seeing the dermatologist every other week like I am to check on Suspicious Moles. But, according to this article, a "...lack of vitamin D and lack of sun exposure were both risk factors for nerve damage, which can be an early symptom of MS."
My sister, K.'s mom, for many years has taken great pains to avoid sun exposure. In that same article, the author says, "Less sunlight for Mom means less vitamin D in her blood for the baby in the works. A low level of vitamin D could affect the developing immune system."
(3) Chill out on the salt? I very recently heard about the possibility that too much salt might (or might not) affect "...the development and severity of autoimmune diseases in people." Studies were done on mice, not humans, so the jury is still out on this one. Still, it couldn't hurt to watch salt intake. (Read an article about it here: http://www.nhs.uk/news/2013/03March/Pages/Salt-link-to-multiple-sclerosis-unproven.aspx)
I know lots of you have children and grandchildren, or nieces and nephews. What, if anything, have you done or told them to help mitigate their risk of developing this dread disease? Or is it pretty well out of our hands? I'd love to think that there's something, anything, I can do to help sweet K., who from the time she was a little girl has helped raise funds for the National MS Society with bake sales and lemonade stands. The same goes for my nephew, of course. I know males tend to have it worse when it comes to MS. God forbid either of them take after their Aunt CrankyPants in this way. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
|K., showing off her newly pierced ears. She was SO excited that day!|