MS more likely to strike those with Scottish genes
Steve Connor is the Science Editor of The Independent. He has won many awards for his journalism, including five-times winner of the prestigious British science writers’ award; the David Perlman Award of the American Geophysical Union; twice commended as specialist journalist of the year in the UK Press Awards; UK health journalist of the year and a special merit award of the European School of Oncology for his investigative journalism. He has a degree in zoology from the University of Oxford and has a special interest in genetics and medical science, human evolution and origins, climate change and the environment.
Tuesday 16 June 1998
People living in Scotland who also have a Scottish name are more than twice as likely to develop multiple sclerosis (MS) - a disease caused by the body's immune defences attacking the central nervous system - than the English.
In a study of 1,613 patients living in the southern region of Scotland, scientists at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford found that the prevalence of MS was about two cases in every thousand members of the public. This compared with one case in a thousand in England and Wales.
The research supports the view that MS is caused by an unidentified factor in the environment, striking only thosewith a genetic predisposition which appears to be particularly prevalent among Scots.
The scientists also found that those Scottish residents with a surname beginning Mac or Mc were 24 per cent more likely to develop MS than those without this sign of a Celtic origin.
Dr Peter Rothwell, a clinical lecturer in neurology at the infirmary, said: "[The research] shows an underlying genetic distinction between the Scots and the English. It also confirms that Scotland has the highest rate of [MS] in the world."
The findings, published today in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, reaffirm that the sharp increase in incidence occurs across the English-Scottish border.
Previous research showed that Orkney and the Shetlands had the highest rates of MS.
A higher incidence of Scottish genes could also explain why the disease tends to be more common in areas of the world, such as New Zealand, where there is a history of Scottish migration, Dr Rothwell said.
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company offers London's best photo booth ...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers ...
£50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an incredible opportunity for a ...
£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Administrator is requir...