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  • Writer's pictureBy The Financial District

Scientists Trace Multiple Sclerosis Origins In Europe

Five thousand years ago, sheep and cattle herders migrated westward from Asia to Europe, bringing with them their pastoral way of life — and a higher genetic risk for multiple sclerosis, according to a new study of DNA from thousands of ancient and present-day people, Carolyn Y. Johnson reported for The Washington Post.


There are about twice as many cases of multiple sclerosis per 100,000 people in north-western Europe, including the UK and Scandinavia, compared with southern Europe.



Writing for BBC News, Philippa Roxby also noted that there are about twice as many cases of multiple sclerosis per 100,000 people in north-western Europe, including the UK and Scandinavia, compared with southern Europe.


All the news: Business man in suit and tie smiling and reading a newspaper near the financial district.

Researchers from the universities of Cambridge, Copenhagen, and Oxford discovered that genes that increase the risk of MS entered northwestern Europe about 5,000 years ago via a massive migration of cattle herders called Yamnaya from western Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan, moving west into Europe, according to one of four Nature journal papers published on the topic.


Science & technology: Scientist using a microscope in laboratory in the financial district.

Another Nature paper uncovered even more clues about our genetic past – that the Yamnaya herders could also be responsible for north-western Europeans being taller than southern Europeans.


And while northern Europeans carry more genetic risk for MS, southern Europeans are more likely to develop bipolar disorder, and eastern Europeans more likely to have Alzheimer's disease and type 2 diabetes.


Health & lifestyle: Woman running and exercising over a bridge near the financial district.

DNA from prehistoric hunter-gatherer people raises the risk of Alzheimer's, but ancient farmers' genes are linked to mood disorders. It also discovered that humans' ability to digest milk and other dairy products and survive on a vegetable-heavy diet only emerged about 6,000 years ago. Before that, they were meat-eaters.




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