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Why Does MS Affect More Women Than Men?

Multiple sclerosis occurs two to three times more often in women than men, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, but experts still aren’t entirely sure why.

The risk of developing multiple sclerosis is at least two to three times higher overall for women than for men, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Some estimates say the ratio may be more like 4 to 1 for women and men for certain types of MS.

The word “sclerosis” is defined as scarring. Multiple sclerosis is a condition that causes scar tissue to form on nerves due to damage in the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves that carry images from the eyes to the brain.

Immune cells in the body normally fight off foreign invaders to prevent disease. MS causes the body’s immune cells to attack the fatty covering on nerves, which is call myelin.

Myelin acts like insulation on an electric cord. It protects the nerves and helps them send electric signals throughout the body. When myelin is damaged, scar tissue forms and the electric signals to and from the brain can be interrupted.

MS typically develops between the ages of 20 and 50. Researchers are uncertain as to why women are more likely to develop the disease than men, but research suggests that genetics, responses to the environment, and hormones may all play a role.

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