Multiple sclerosis diagnoses peak around Jack Osbourne's age
(CBS News) Jack Osbourne, the 26-year-old son of Ozzy and Sharon, has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS).
The former star of MTV's reality show, "The Osbournes," told People magazine in an interview that he was diagnosed with the disease just two weeks after he welcomed the birth of his first child with fiancee Lisa Stelly, CBS News reported.
"I was just angry and frustrated and kept thinking, 'Why now?'" Osbourne, said.
Dr. Karen Blitz-Shabbir, director of the North Shore-LIJ MS Care Center at Glen Cove Hospital in Glen Cove, N.Y., told HealthPop that the peak time a person is diagnosed with MS is in fact between the ages of 20 and 30.
"It is the most common, chronic, neurodegenerative condition affecting young people," she explained.
But the disease can also be diagnosed in children as young as 10 and the elderly. Blitz-Shabbir, who is not involved in Osbourne's care, said the disease strikes more women than men - in about a two to one ratio - and affects about 400,000 people in the United States.
Multiple sclerosis affects each person differently, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The chronic disease attacks the central nervous system, resulting in symptoms that range from mild numbness in the limbs to more severe symptoms like paralysis or loss of vision, depending on the severity of the disease and the areas of the brain it affects.
People Magazine reported Jack lost 60 percent of his vision in his right eye before he was diagnosed.
MS is thought to be caused by body's immune system attacking myelin, the fatty substance that encases and protects the nerve cells in the central nervous system. The damaged myelin causes scar tissue - known as sclerosis - that disrupts nerve impulses traveling to and from the brain and spine, causing symptoms depending on which areas are affected.
While MS is thought to be an autoimmune disorder, the cause for the disease is unknown, Blitz-Shabbir said. A genetic component may be at play but the disease is not inherited, she explained. The disease also appears to have a geographical distribution, affecting more people in areas farther away from equator. Blitz-Shabbir noted that there is a high incidence of MS in Iceland but a low one in India.
A study last year found MS is more common in areas that get little sunlight, suggesting that more vitamin D may protect against MS, CBS News reported.
According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, there is no cure for the disease but it can be treated. Blitz-Shabbir called early treatment "critical" because studies suggest people who are treated earliest have better outcomes later in life.
She told HealthPop that today there are more MS treatments than ever before, including injectable medications, a monthly intravenous treatment or even as of September 2010, a pill that can be taken orally. Two more oral medications are expected to gain approval within a year, Blitz-Shabbir said. When she started practicing in 1993 when the first injectable MS drug was approved, treatments were so scarce that patients entered a lottery.
"The number of options for treatment has changed the course of the disease," Blitz Shabbir explained. "In 1993 people were hospitalized routinely [with MS]."
People experiencing major neurological symptoms such as a change in coordination or a temporary loss of vision should get evaluated by a doctor. A few minutes of tingling should not be considered a significant cause for concern, she said.
Said Blitz Shabbir, "People know - if there's something up, they'll know."
Sharon Osbourne was emotional on CBS' "The Talk" on Monday when talking about her son's diagnosis, thanking supporters for well wishes.
"Just thank you to everyone for all their good wishes," said Sharon. "It's been amazing ... for Jack 'cause I really believe that vibes of prayer help."
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