A Harvard research group recently published a study investigating if the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a trigger for multiple sclerosis. This study has received a lot of attention in the media and from the National MS Society. It is promoted as a very large study done by a well-respected research group that provides strong evidence that EBV is a trigger for MS. Many outlets have reported that there is now a scientific consensus that EBV triggers MS and that vaccines should be developed quickly to prevent people from getting EBV, and therefore MS. They also suggest that antiviral therapies should be developed and given to MS patients to treat the Epstein-Barr virus.
If you follow my work, you will know that a large and growing body of research shows that MS is caused by infection. Viruses could potentially be involved with multiple sclerosis, but I have serious concerns about this study.
- This study was done using a very small sample size. From the 10 million people in this study group, 800 were EBV negative at the start of the study and became EBV positive before the onset of MS. The researchers only studied 35 of the 800 people. Why?
- Most of the 35 people studied were male when normally about 70% of females get MS. Therefore, this study group was not an accurate representation of the real-world incidences of MS.
- EBV is a very common virus that infects about 95% of the general population. Using their data from the 10 million participants, 99.99% of all people in this group that eventually had EBV over a 20-year period, did not develop multiple sclerosis. If EBV is the trigger for developing MS, wouldn’t we see a higher incidence of people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when almost everyone gets EBV?
- In their very small sample size of 35 people, they found that 97% developed MS after an Epstein-Barr virus infection. Again, in the general population about 94% – 95% of all people will become infected with EBV. Is the 2% difference significant?
- Viruses are not living microbes and therefore do not require food to survive. Thus, if we follow a low-carb diet we shouldn’t notice significant improvements in MS neurological symptoms quickly, but we do. People we coach report big improvements in bladder function, sleep, mood, brain fog and energy within 1 – 2 weeks of eating a low carb diet. Then in a few weeks the MS hug and spasticity can subside, strength, balance and tremors can improve along with many other symptoms.
- Association doesn’t prove causation. Confounding factors must be addressed and because they don’t know what causes MS, how do they know what the confounding factors are?
I don’t see how this data shows that EBV is the trigger for MS. Based on their data, I believe their conclusion is very weak. And if the evidence is so weak … why is this study being promoted so heavily and why is it published in such an important journal?
The Executive Vice President of Research for the National MS Society stated, “This is an impressive study from a highly regarded research group that strengthens the scientific consensus that infection with Epstein-Barr virus is a trigger for MS… Development of Epstein-Barr virus vaccines is underway, and once one is proven safe and effective, it should be tested with haste in people at high risk for MS.”
The MS Society also state on their website that “The National MS Society invested in this study as part of its ongoing research commitment to ending MS.”
An article on the Science website states, “There may be new opportunities for therapy: Would a vaccine against EBV protect against MS? Can the B cells that dwell in the CSF be killed or inactivated with therapeutics? Would antivirals that target EBV provide effective therapy, especially when given early in the course of the disease? Now that the initial trigger for MS has been identified, perhaps MS could be eradicated.”
Does Epstein-Barr Virus Trigger MS? Part 1
Does Epstein-Barr Virus Trigger MS? Part 2
In truth, there is no scientific consensus and to state otherwise is reckless and harmful. Researchers say it will take years of research and safety studies before a vaccine is available. They also believe more immune suppressive treatments or antivirals may be future treatments.
Is this the answer? Do you feel this is promising research or do you feel that this is more of the same? More of how MS has been treated for many, many years. Please share your comments. I would like to know what you think.
If you’re frustrated with the fact that our standard of care still doesn’t have a real solution for treating MS, then click on the link below to watch my masterclass training and discover real solutions that have allow myself and many others to live free from MS symptoms.
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Clinically diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 28, Pam chose an alternative approach to recovery. Now decades later and still symptom free, she coaches others on how to treat the root cause of chronic disease, using a holistic approach. She can teach you how, too.
Pam is the author of Become a Wellness Champion and founder of Live Disease Free. She is a wellness expert, coach and speaker.
The Live Disease Free Academy has helped hundreds of Wellness Champions in over 15 countries take charge of their health and experience profound improvements in their life.