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Black Women Have Higher Incidence of Multiple Sclerosis than White Women
Date:5/6/2013

PASADENA, Calif., May 6, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Multiple sclerosis is more common in black women than in white women, according to a Kaiser Permanente study published today in the journal Neurology. The findings run contrary to the widely accepted belief that blacks are less susceptible to MS, according to the researchers.

Researchers examined the electronic health records of more than 3.5 million members of Kaiser Permanente Southern California between January 2008 and December 2011 and identified 496 people newly diagnosed with MS. Of these diagnosed cases, black patients had a 47 percent higher risk of MS than white patients, while Hispanic and Asian patients had a 50 percent and 80 percent lower risk compared to white patients, respectively.

The study also found that 70 percent of MS cases occurred in females, but this preponderance of females diagnosed was more pronounced among black patients than white patients. In addition, black women had a higher incidence of MS than white patients of both genders, while black men had a similar risk of being diagnosed with MS compared to white men. The lower risk among Hispanic and Asian patients was true for both sexes.

"Our findings do not support the widely held belief that blacks have a lower risk of MS than whites, but that MS risk is determined by complex interactions between race, ethnicity, sex, environmental factors and genotypes," said study lead author Annette Langer-Gould , MD, PhD, of the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation. "Although additional research is needed, possible explanations for the higher incidence of MS in black women include a greater prevalence of hormonal, genetic, or environmental risk factors such as smoking, compared to patients from other racial or ethnic groups."

The study estimates 19,000 people per year — or 250 per week — are newly diagnosed wit
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SOURCE Kaiser Permanente
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