Ptwo wrote:The head of the ms center at Dartmouth has told me that the rates of ms for northern NH and Vt are the highest in the country. Could it be that we are the victims of pollution spreading eastward from the old coal fired power plants of the Ohio valley?
There aren't enough people living in that area for these numbers, if they're even real, to be statistically significant. Look, the fact is that no one knows the etiology of MS. We do have a pretty good idea that there's a genetic component, and there seems to be a link between how cold it is in the place you spend your youth and perhaps to how much winter sunshine there is in the place you spend your youth although the sunshine link needs a lot more research.
Little of this can really explain upstate New York and Vermont relative to, say, Wisconsin or Maine or North Dakota or Montana, all of which have high MS rates but not as high as Vermont's according to that one map. It could easily be that a lot of upstate NY and VT is descended from a relatively homogenous gene pool some of whose members are especially prone to MS. Or there might be no reason at all, i.e., that the high rate in that area is random. That is certainly possible given the general rarity of MS.
As for pollution being a cause, there is no evidence of a link between pollution and MS. I'm not advocating in favor of pollution, but just because pollution is bad and MS is bad doesn't mean that pollution causes MS. There are all kinds of good reasons to clean up Midwestern power plants, but there's no indication that it would have any impact on MS rates in NY or VT. If pollution mattered in general or power plants in particular, wouldn't you see MS at higher rates downwind from coal-fired plants elsewhere in the U.S. or the rest of the world, too?
I use to spend my summers catching and eating trout from our brooks and rivers. Now the state say's don't eat it more than once a month do to mercury levels in the fish. I think this is probably not something new and those high mercury levels were there when I was a kid.
Mercury poisoning hasn't been shown to have any connection to MS. The symptoms can appear similar, but MS symptoms are similar to those seen in all kinds of conditions.
It would be interesting to see a county by county map of ms rates across the country to see if there is a pollution component for those living down wind of our biggest polluters.
be interesting. Of course, we'd have to know a lot more than just the MS rates in particular counties. We'd need to know where the MSers came from and a bunch of other things. Nevertheless, complete data and good statistics software could yield some useful insights.