Why do people get MS?

Genetic factors

There is a genetic element to MS and it is known that having a close family member with MS increases your risk of developing it too.

While you can’t change your genes, much of your risk of developing MS is determined by the lifestyle choices you make.

Environmental factors

Diet, fitness, smoking, stress levels and sun exposure are all important environmental factors that influence the risk of developing MS.

By following a healthy lifestyle, you can significantly decrease your own likelihood of developing MS.

Immunological factors

MS is considered to be an immune-based disorder, where the body’s immune system attacks the brain and spinal cord. These attacks cause damage to the myelin sheaths that protect nerve fibers and can cause a variety of neurological symptoms.

MS Encyclopedia

family with MS

Are my family members at risk?

If you have a family member with MS, you are at an increased risk of developing it too. Making positive lifestyle changes such as stopping smoking, reducing your saturated fat intake, managing your stress levels and taking a vitamin D supplement are important in preventing MS.

smoking and MS

Does smoking affect people with MS?

Stopping smoking is one of the most helpful lifestyle choices anyone can make, however this is particularly true for people with MS. Smoking suppresses the immune system, increasing your risk of developing MS. For those who have already been diagnosed, it accelerates the progression of the condition.


How can I control my stress levels?

Stress is known to trigger or worsen MS attacks, therefore managing your stress levels is an important aspect of living well with MS. Often stressful circumstances can not be avoided but through meditation and living mindfully, you can change the way you react to life’s challenges. 

pregnancy and MS

Can I get pregnant with MS?

It is normal to have concerns about pregnancy if you have been diagnosed with MS. The good news is that it is possible and pregnancy itself actually reduces MS activity. Continuing to follow the Overcoming MS Program during pregnancy will help you and your baby stay healthy.