Environmental Factors

Environmental factors increase the risk of developing the MS. Factors include low levels of vitamin D, sun exposure, high cow’s milk consumption and more.

What environmental factors increase the risk of developing MS?

For people with the 'right' genetic background – those predisposed to developing MS because of a strong family genetic tendency to MS – certain environmental factors increase the risk of developing the disease. These factors include:

  • Low levels of vitamin D while still in utero
  • Low levels of sun exposure during childhood (particularly in winter and ages 6-15)
  • High cow’s milk consumption as a child and adolescent
  • High body-mass index during adolescence
  • Smoking (including passive smoking)
  • High saturated fat diet
  • Stress

Once a person has MS, only environmental factors affect the progression of the disease, not genetics. Note that one cannot 'catch' MS from a family member or anyone else.