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By Randall T. Schapiro, MD, FAAN

President, The Schapiro Multiple Sclerosis Advisory Group and Clinical Professor of Neurology (Retired)
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN

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Q: I have a family history of multiple sclerosis (MS). Is there any way to prevent it?

No matter how much you exercise, how healthful your diet or how well you take care of yourself, there is no way to prevent MS. It affects people randomly. But keep in mind that MS is not an inherited disease. Genetic susceptibility plays a role. Although there is a higher risk for MS in families where it has occurred, but just because you have a relative who has MS doesn't mean you will get it. Other possible factors in triggering MS are viruses, environmental factors and low levels of vitamin D. If you get MS, remember that it is somewhat manageable, and, if detected early, medications may slow the progress of the disease and the severity of symptoms.