What? Really? The headline above not only caught my eye but stopped me in my tracks yesterday when I saw it on another blog site.
I already knew that the Epstein Barr Virus that leads to glandular fever also has a link to MS but in a negative way. So how could someone now be saying the opposite? This deserved further investigation.
Clicking on the story itself, published on news.com.au website, and it all becomes clear – the headline is misleading. It does not reflect the whole story written by Sue Dunlevy, of News Corp Australia Network.
In her original article, Sue wrote:
A DOSE of Epstein Barr Virus that causes glandular fever as a child and high dose prescription vitamin D could be the key to slashing Australia’s high rate of the debilitating Multiple Sclerosis disease.
Remember the key words ‘as a child’. They are crucial. Later, in the same article, it is explained . She wrote:
Sydney University Professor David Booth says people who contact Epstein Barr Virus that causes glandular fever before the age of ten are four times less likely to contract MS while those who get it later in life are up to 20 times more likely to get the disease.
So, catching glandular fever before you are 10 means you are LESS likely to fall foul of multiple sclerosis but getting GF at an older age means you are MUCH MORE likely to develop the disease. I had glandular fever when I was 21 and when MS was finally diagnosed, 28 years later, my neurologist said my medical records showed symptoms in my early to mid-20s.
The article also contained news from Australia about MS and vitamin D:
The distance of our major capital cities from the equator means Australians are at greater risk of the disabling disease that attacks the protective insulation around nerve fibres (myelin) in the brain and spinal cord.
Every day four Australians are diagnosed with MS, the average age of diagnosis is just 30 years of age and people living in Hobart are seven times more susceptible to the disease than those living in North Queensland. The closer you are to the equator when you grow up, the less likely you are to get MS.
Currently, there is no cure and the breakthrough treatments that are available have serious side effects.
Researchers who have identified the genes linked to MS want to trial a special prescription vitamin D to see if it can help treat and prevent the disease that afflicts 23,000 Australians.
Professor Booth has helped identify the genetic key to how vitamin D may be protective against Multiple Sclerosis (MS). “Vitamin D is the master regulator of which genes are turned on and off in a cell and they control the body’s immune response,” he says.
These genes are implicated not just in MS but also Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, lupus and Coealiac (sic) disease.
“Now we know vitamin D genes increase your risk of auto-immune diseases, if we can track down what vitamin D does we can better use it to treat the problem, he says.
MS Research is currently funding a trial to test over the counter vitamin D supplements in preventing MS. Professor Booth says there could also be merit in testing high dose vitamin D prescription drug paracalcitol as a prevention and treatment for MS. This drug gets around the body’s regulation of vitamin D levels.
Other ways you can reduce your risk of MS is to stop smoking, get enough sunlight, reduce salt in your diet.
Back to the headline. To correct it, just add those three key words I told you to remember ‘as a child’ and the heading would read ‘Catching glandular fever as a child can prevent multiple sclerosis’.