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Local doctor says Christina Applegate's tweet about MS diagnosis brings attention to disease

Christina Applegate
Posted at 3:51 PM, Aug 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-10 19:01:42-04

CLEVELAND — Christina Applegate revealed on Twitter Monday night that she’s living with multiple sclerosis. The Emmy-Award-winning actress said she found out a few months ago, calling the diagnosis a “tough road.”

News 5 spoke with Dr. Hesham Abboud, the Director of the Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroimmunology Program at the UH Cleveland Medical Center. He went over several risk factors for MS, including vitamin D deficiency. You might also create an inflammatory environment in your own body.

“Smoking, for example, can predispose [someone] to MS,” he explained. There’s also a genetic component to consider. Dr. Abboud says there’s a slightly increased risk of MS if you have a family history of the condition.

So what does it mean to live with MS? Dr. Abboud described the condition as “an immune-mediated disease in which the immune system attacks the brain and or the spinal cord of the patients, instead of protecting the patient.” That can cause inflammation in the brain or spinal cord and lead to neurological symptoms like paralysis, sensory loss and decreased visual acuity.

There are treatments for those experiencing a flare-up of MS. Dr. Abboud says those treatments may include oral medication, intravenous infusions, and in some cases, self-injection. He believes Applegate’s decision to share her diagnosis will have a positive impact going forward.

“It kind of brings attention to a certain disease…which always have, you know, positive implications in terms of research funding,” he said. It also helps other patients living with MS to have someone they can identify with, and gets people talking and learning more about the disease.

It’s not the first time Applegate got people talking about their health. In 2008 she revealed her battle with breast cancer, after which she had a double mastectomy, and had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society estimates there are more than 2.3 million people living with MS across the world.