, Volume 26, Issue 10, pp 1215-1216
Date: 21 Jan 2011

The Seventy Percent Solution

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I loved practicing Tae Kwon Do. The forms are precise, crisp like an elegant dance. But I most especially loved the thrill of sparring. Stepping into the ring, ducking, dodging, kicking, and flying in spinning tornado kicks; I loved the surge of adrenaline that came with the controlled combat of tournaments. I competed nationally, even winning a bronze medal in the trials for the Pan American Games.

But that was a long time ago. A lot has happened since then—medical school, an internal medicine residency, a son, a daughter. I became an academic general internist, and I developed a chronic disease.

Like many with an autoimmune disease, my troubles had begun two decades before the diagnosis: loss of stamina and strength, problems with balance, bouts of horrific facial pain, dips in visual acuity. When I developed the foot drop, the diagnosis was made: multiple sclerosis (MS).

What caused my immune cells to begin their assault on my brain? My doctor said that genetics accounted for only 10 t ...