This paper has been drawn together through a combination of personal motivations as someone who has watched this disease affect loved ones, personal thought as someone who wants to contribute to the wellbeing of others, and personal research as someone who is both persistent and a professional troubleshooter. Nevertheless, having no training in the medical field and having no qualifications as a doctor or medical researcher beyond the motivations described above, I am acutely aware of my own limitations in contributing to a field where many more qualified individuals have gone before me. Despite all this, I felt compelled to write down the ideas I have been researching with the hope that it might be helpful to the medical community at large.
One of the most unique traits of multiple sclerosis is its seemingly geographic connections. The combination of this factor with its seemingly indiscriminate nature towards second generation immigrants set the course to search for a geographically applied but perhaps (some disagree) ethnically unrelated marker. The first place to start for something like this is something government mandated. The scope of different government mandated items is enormous. The primary problem is further complicated by the tendency for higher rates of MS in family members and in women. To try to narrow down the search for such a daunting group of government mandated items required further isolation.
In order to understand how this process
proceeded, we need to examine the main focus of MS during my reading. Through a chapter on the immune system in
“Life Unfolding” by Jamie Davies, I was intrigued by the statistical process by
which the immune system, using T cells, identifies foreign hostile intruders to
the body while avoiding detecting the body itself. More specifically, I was interested in the
role of iodine in maintaining and promoting correct function of the immune
system to perform this function. If an abundance of iodine, causing the immune
system to become very active, was suddenly followed by an iodine deficiency
which prevented the immune system from correctly identifying T cells that
contained markers for myelin.
The main interest I had in iodine was its
generally accepted governmental prescription through iodized salt. Iodized table salt was a perfect way for many
governments distribute iodine to general populations thereby preventing iodine
deficiencies and many serious illnesses this causes. Nevertheless, salt is not generally viewed as
good by all people due to high blood pressure and other potentially negative
side effects. Also, the importance of
table salt in order to avoid iodine deficiency is not generally understood or considered
when cutting out or decreasing salt in ones diet. Therefore, it is quite possible that one
could suddenly cut out a significant source of iodine in the body causing rapid
fluctuation of iodine levels. It is my
belief that this could lead to statistically probable situations in the thymus
where T cells that should be destroyed because they contain myelin markers are
allowed to proliferate.
There are two other factors that I believe
also point towards iodized salt as the key contributor towards creating the
conditions for MS. The first is the impact
that swings in sodium levels in the body have on myelin. While the swings might not be significant
enough to cause ODS, it is my hypothesis that they might be significant enough
to cause enough myelin cell death that myelin cell fragments become
statistically more likely for T cells to encounter on phagocytes. The second factor is the higher prevalence of
MS in women. With the natural dangers of
iodine deficiency during pregnancy and breast feeding,
it is my hypothesis that this could be part of what may account for the higher
rate of MS in women.
Where there appear to be exceptions to the
rule (countries with iodized salt but without MS) some of this could be
explained by the existence of iodine or lack there of in other sources. In New Zealand, for example, there is iodine
in both salt and bread to combat iodine deficiencies. Where there are more sources of iodine, there
is less chance for sudden drops in iodine.
Another example is Australia where it appears there is a north-south
gradient for MS
but where there is also a north-south gradient for iodine deficiency.
In conclusion, it is my hypothesis that
sudden changes in iodine (and salt) levels due to decreasing iodized salt
intake create statistically probably conditions for the immune system to
develop T cells that target myelin leading to MS. Prevention of MS would then mean more
consistently regulating iodine to avoid severe drops or spikes in iodine
levels. While I am very aware that these
ideas are far from complete, it is my hope that these ideas might help
researchers with much more understanding than I so that we can not only begin
to understand the causes of MS better but work more concretely towards a cure