Familial Connections Cannot Be Coincidences, Can They?

Life can be really strange and not always fathomable to someone like me who is not blessed with neither medical nor scientific qualifications.

familial connectionsOn a purely technical basis, I am just an ordinary guy. What I do know about diseases, illnesses and conditions – call them what you will – comes from my personal experience of being a patient, being a relative of a patient, or through being a journalist. In the last role, I carry research into facts to enable me to write and to talk to people who know much more than me about their subjects.

All this is the foundation on which my opinions are developed.

But let’s look at something that many may regard as mysterious: possible connections between diseases and family members!

Can multiple sclerosis be inherited? While in most cases the answer seems to be that it is not inherited, research published earlier his year proved that in some cases it can be. Familial links have been discovered. (http://news.ubc.ca/2016/06/01/ubc-vancouver-coastal-health-scientists-find-genetic-cause-of-multiple-sclerosis/)

Two different connections

In my own case, I have two family links with two different illnesses – epilepsy and MS. The fact that I have both is not totally surprising as it has been established that epilepsy and multiple sclerosis occur together more frequently than by chance. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24304488).

My brother and I developed epilepsy, although there was no known family history of it. I can remember as  a child, probably about 6 years old as I was 11 years younger than my brother, seeing him have a seizure in our garage. I ran into our backyard calling to our parents and shouting that Graham had “fallen over.” I knew what I meant – and so did they!

Later, a couple of his children showed signs of the disease while still young but they seemed to grow out of it.

However, a different son has since been diagnosed with relapsing MS and was told a couple of days ago that his recent MRI shows active lesions. My nephew has now been prescribed Tecfidera that he is going to take, despite having very real concerns about its possible side effects.

“I checked the drug out on the MS Society website,” he told me. What he saw did not exactly ease his concerns.

Connections or coincidences? I don’t really believe in coincidences.

This post, written by me first appeared in Multiple Sclerosis News Today.

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ian profile

Ian Franks is Managing Editor of the columns division of BioNews Services, owner of 50 disease-specific news and information websites, including MS News Today. He has enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor, in the print media; during which he gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. He was diagnosed with MS in 2002 but continued working until mobility problems forced him to retire early in late 2006. He now lives in the south of Spain and uses his skills to write his own flourishing specialist MS, Health & Disability blog at 50shadesofsun.com. Besides MS, Ian is also able to write about both epilepsy and cardiovascular matters from a patient’s perspective and is a keen advocate on mobility and accessibility issues.


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