One in a Million? No Thanks!

Multiple sclerosis is a serious health condition faced by too many Americans. Experts recently realized that previous estimates of this disease’s prevalence were inaccurate – by a shocking amount. Multiple sclerosis is now estimated to affect 1 million people in the United States, which is nearly double the prior estimate.

What changed?

It’s not actually that twice as many people suddenly came down with MS. Rather, previous estimates relied on probability health surveys which were less reliable. The latest estimate used a novel algorithm approach drawing data from government and private health claims databases.

Why is this important?

Getting a firm grasp on the real prevalence of multiple sclerosis lays important groundwork for understanding and addressing the burden of this disease. In addition, researchers will finally be able to accurately track whether MS is increasing, decreasing, or staying the same over time – while risk factors and treatments are explored.

In short, what is now known is this: twice as many people as previously thought are in need of treatment and support…and ideally a cure.

What can I do right now?

But while we’re waiting for that, there is something people with MS can do now.

New research shows that drinking soda (or other sugary beverages) appears to make symptoms worse and correlate with greater disability. It’s a big deal. Drinking 290 calories worth of soda daily – which is about two cans of regular soda each day – means a five times greater risk of severe disability for those with MS, when compared to people with MS who generally skip sodas.

The prudent plan, if you’re one of the ‘1 in a million’ with MS: ditch the soda.


Wallin MT, Culpepper WJ, Campbell JD, et al. the prevalence of MS in the United States. Neurology March 5, 2019;92(10): DOI:

Press release. Soda, sugar-sweetened beverages linked to more severe symptoms for people with multiple sclerosis. Am Acad Neur March 5, 2019.