Restless Legs Syndrome
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Did Neanderthals get RLS?

I have wondered if there is a genetic component to RLS, meaning is it commonly found in certain genetic groups of people- not just in families? (Some other health issues are - like Sickle Cell anemia more common in people of African descent, or Cystic Fibrosis in Caucasians. Even things like being lactose intolerant or having the second toe longer than the big toe can be common among genetic groups of people.

The reason I wonder is that this website is from Britain and by far many people on here live there. There have been some Aussies, and Irish, and from the US, which has quite a few people of similar descents. I myself am half English/Irish/Scottish, and the other half is Bohemian/German.

We did have on here for awhile someone who was Chinese, born and raised, she told me, in China Town in Chicago. (I am from Chicago and live just south of the city myself.)

So, of the genetic type of RLS, (not that caused by spinal injury, etc.,) is this more common among Caucasians? Is it more common among those of British descent, altho I know that English, Scottish and Irish have Roman, Viking, Norman, Saxon blood etc., besides the indigenous peoples (the Celts, the Picts, etc.)

Are we just seeing these types of people on here because it is a British site? Do other groups of people also have RLS? Did they have it so much in the past, or is it more of a modern disease or at least made worse by many of the chemicals and pseudo foods in our environment?

Not that knowing these things changes anything particularly. If one has it then one must deal with it. I just wonder because that is how my mind works. I like to (armchair) study history, prehistory, genetics, etc. and so I think about these things.

I just found out that I am 4% Neanderthal (My sister had her DNA done.) Did Neanderthals get RLS? (!!??)

So, just a little aside one can think about and ponder.

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I've often wondered the same , Laura. And have similar thought processes !! (too much time on our hands!)

It was wondered on a previous thread , what was the genetic survival point of rls- I reckoned it was to keep some of the population awake to keep the cave fire lit to keep predators away!??

Neanderthal genes are apparently greater in Northern European populations- so your reasoning may be valid.

I have primary rls and have Scandinavian / Basque/ Celtic makeup.

It would be very interesting to know if Negro or Asian lines get rls. Of course - Negro is the purest form of humanity- not having been mixed up with Neanderthal !!

I certainly wonder about food triggers and how diet has changed since agriculture started 10000 yrs ago. Enough time for it to become a genetic factor.

Fascinating subject ! Look forward to following your research.

Cheers.

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Recently read (today, in fact) that it is more common among Caucasians. You also might check out the book I recommended below - "The Great Human Diasporas" by Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza and Francesco Cavalli-Sforza. Easy to read, written for the lay person who finds genetics, etc. an interesting subject.

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And also, not all genetic issues are survival based. Some are flaws. BUT it is an interesting proposal. That could also mean hyperactivity, or the high aspect of bi-polarism might actually have a survival component. Or having 6 fingers in each hand, which is also genetic.

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Isn't there a theory that the Basques are descended from the Cro-Magnons?

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Ha! Now you're saying I'm descended from a bunch of Neanderthal killing immigrants??? 😩

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I saw a program on this. Where it was traced by the language of the Basques. But I don't know a lot about this subject. Would have to look it all up.

Are you saying the Cro-Magnons killed off the Neanderthals?

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Well- it may just be coincidence that Neanderthals dissapeared about the same time as Cro Magnon came on the scene.

Competition, disease and outright conflict are all in the frame. Probably a combination of all.

A bit like North American and Australian history.!! And what's happening to tribes in South America today.

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RLS is definately genetic in my case. Mother Father Daughters

Perhaps it just gets worse as we age and there are more old people around these days.

When I was young (twenties) there was no one with RLS because no doctor I know diagnosed it

It was growing pains or something they didn't understand.

Didnt5% of doctors have RLS? Perhaps they had no idea what to do about it so they just pretended not to notice. Physician heal thyself is OK if the poor old physician has a clue whats going wrong!

Cheers

Graham

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They had ready access to opioid drugs. No further comment required! !

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Good thought. I have read (there's a reliable source to quote) that a fair number of doctors were/are addicted but because they had access to the drugs it was not necessarily a problem to them. They used a bit and could keep working. I think Sherlock Holmes author was in this situation but that also might be historical rubbish.

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True!

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And yet, it was written about in 1672 by Sir Thomas Willis. I think, also, that subsequent doctors just decided to ignor it.

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Didn't Sir Thomas Willis note that those suffering from rls responded well to opiates?

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Laudanum was widely used in 18th and 19th century as a cureall for many maladies. Good Queen Vicky was a passionate participant.

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We are not amused

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29Jan2018 I would have as well with all her physical problems it's a wonder she managed to keep going at all.A lot incurred from all her multiple pregnancies.Someone on this site mentioned if I recall correctly RLS started in Russia.

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Hi madlegs1. I’m Asian descent with some European mix, but have suffered RLS from my earliest memory.

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Is it more common among those of British descent,

As an Irish man I could have told you the British were to blame :) :p

There most certainly is a genetic component with a connection, or maybe even correlation with ADHD.

I'd imagine man in his more primitive state would have had a very different diet which may have helped cause less RLS.

Maybe the RLS kept the poor cave man awake at night so not only does he be more aware of and avoid any dinosaurs, (I watched the Flintstones I know they existed together :) ), on their way back from the pub, (you know how peckish a Spinosauraus is after several pints and back then the kebab shops used to close early)

So Dave the caveman is up pacing and hears the Spinosaurus staggering through the night signing 'Yellow Submarine' so he hides away from the cave while said Spinosaurus feasts on the rest that slept through his sinning.

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I think you have got it, Raffs!

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Presumably with his hunter-gatherer diet he had a fairly high serum ferritin due to the preponderance of meat in his diet.

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Good question, nice lateral thinking.

Well, the forum is instigated by the UK RLS foundation. The communication language is English. You may not realise it, but not everybody in the world in fluent enough in English to take part actively in the forum. Or will even stumble upon it. So that is why. As simple as that.

And not all genes that we have we have because they have been selected for their useful pr positive effects. Many just trail along and they have not been selected out because they have no important negative effect on our reproduction or survival.

Finally, many things including genes have evolved, emerged and also been lost since the origin of the humans.

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I have read an greatly interesting book, not on RLS, but on genetics. It is written for the average person to read, so it is not technical. It is "The Great Human Diasporas, by Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza and his son Francesco Cavalli-Sforza. You and others on here might find it a good read and very informative. If you like that sort of thing.

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Fascinating Lauraflora,

I’m convinced there’s a genetic cause for primary RLS. It’s probably a mutation ( e.g. cystic fibrosis is genetic & there’s no evolutionary reason for it).

However, Raffs could be on to something with his dinosaur 🦖 theory- some poor sod forced to stay awake by the fire eventually evolved into jumpy legs man.

If and when more funding is made available & Big Pharma cottons on to how many people suffer from this disease & therefore how much ££££££( it’s a British site) they can make; research will narrow down the faulty genes & drugs may be found that help us ( hopefully without the horrible side effects).

Research into other neurological diseases is very advanced now and genetic links to MS, Parkinson’s & Motor Neuron disease have been found.

Most of us in the UK are mongrels. There are so many different ethnic groups so there’s certainly a very mixed gene pool.

As Lotte says, if English is not your first language, it can be more difficult to post on this site.

Look forward to hearing other people’s theories on this.

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I recently read that RLS is more prevalent in Caucasians, so perhaps that is why there are more websites in English speaking places. Saw one in Canada, and there are many here in the US.

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I'm sure I read somewhere that the highest prevalence in Sweden. However, it does also occur in India and in the far east. I note from a trailer I saw over the weekend that the latest series of 'Vikings' seems to be set somewhere in the middle east ???!? Perhaps we must blame its spread on the migratory impulses of the Nordic races?

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I read now that it is much more common among Caucasians.

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Red hair and restless legs from the Vikings. Maybe the RLS was what made them migrate as well as fight. They couldn't sit still.

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lol

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I must have some Viking blood in me as when the RLS is all over my body I'm like a berserker!

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They would have had to have you seen their ships? I think there is still one in Stockholm they were restoring. 29 Jan 2018

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The main idea is that ‘Eve’ came ‘out of Africa’. Although I think I read somewhere there is new evidence of ancient humans, similarly ancient as ‘Eve’, outside of Africa too...

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Have read that theory also, and why not? There could be spontaneous generation of similar species in different places. Anything is possibly possible.

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There were two separate diaspora out of the horn of Africa - that's the modern Homo Sapiens.

There were many earlier Homo species before all the ice ages.

Maybe they all had rls and just never stopped walking. Got them to Tasmania and Tierra del Fuego!! Oh- and the Moon.😎

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I think you are right!

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I’m Australian and of Irish and British decent, but living in Tokyo, Japan. Interestingly RLS is increasing among the Japanese too. I would imagine there is some environmental, diet or lifestyle trigger.

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Is it actually increasing in Japan or is it a case that the reporting of it is increasing?

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Maybe it is MSG? In several asian countries they seem to use MSG quite a bit, I think , anyway.

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Good question! I’m not sure ... I’ll look into it.

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YES. 70% of all RLS is genetic. Easy to google, and we have discussed this a lot. Go to the foundation web site or any reputable site that talks about RLS. The genes were found in 2001 and 2004. And, I can certainly tell without even reading the medical journals that mine is genetic. Both my sisters, my nieces, my nieces' kids and me all have RLS. The parents can pass the genes on without having any symptoms of their own. My mother has just barely shown signs of mild RLS at the age of 89, and it is usually females passing it to females. But there is a ton of info out there on this subject and on this forum.

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Interesting. I am probably the only one in my family who has it. Except possibly one son, tho he had a spinal injury and it seemed to come on more after that. It certainly was not a problem for him when he was younger. No other relatives in my rather small even extended family have it.

I did not know it was passed on by females, but it can't be only TO females as there are quite a few males on here who have it.

Good info! Thanks.

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I THINK nightdancer means if the female of the family has RLS then its passed down to the females . So a mother passes it down to daughters rather than sons. My father had RLS, and i am a female lol but i have a brother who has RLS.

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You mean females pass it to their female children and males pass it to their male children? Could be - tho anything is possible, or not possible with genetics. Often confusing, unless we all take a course in genetics.

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No, as i said my father had RLS and i have it too and i am a female also my brother has it. SO, one of each. :)

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Yes, I did get it the first time around. I think we are getting some of our wording mixed up in several of these posts.

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Mine started before I can remember and like Elisse it was mild enough with no meds needed.

As I hit my teens and 20's things got worse but it wasn't until my 30's that I got treatment.

I seem my father showing more and more signs of it,a although it doesn't seem to bother him too much at 71 years of age.

No one else in the family have it although I have notions one son does so the genetic side is coming through the males with us

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and yes, it is more prevalent in people of European descent.

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Wikipedia has a good article on RLS. Esp. under History and also Epidemiology. Sir Thomas Willis first wrote about it in 1672. And it was called "fidgets in the legs" in the nineteenth century. I have also heard people call it the heebee-geebees. A rose by any other name....etc.

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Yes Sir Thomas Willis was the first to write about it, and it was Dr Karl Ekbom in the 1940's that gave it the name of Restless Legs Syndrome. I read recently that Karl Ekbom missed reading the bit where Willis said limbs were flaying,( arms were included. ) So, if Ekbom had read it properly we might not be saying Restless LEGS syndrome today, but another name might have been used. Now how true all that is, i dont know. :)

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maybe it would be called "Restless Limbs." I was surprised at how far back it was first recognized as a disease.

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Thanks everyone for your interest and input! I was NOT pickled when I wrote that original post. I actually think about these sorts of things and wonder about them. Not just in terms of RLS, but in terms of our history and pre-history on Earth. It is all fascinating!

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I think about these things too. So, yes, genetic to a significant extent. It might be that the survival was due to the lookout potential at night though they also will have protected non sufferers!

But I think it's more likely that as it often starts late in life that it was irrelevant to survival and also that folk died much younger in ancient times so for most folk even if they were going to have it later, they didn't have time to know that.

I think it's chance.

I think Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity is chance in the same way though there was probably a survival gain in the folk who in modern times have these. The ability to eat more than needed in times of plenty and store it as fat was protective in times of famine, and those who put on weight round their middles could protect their vital organs from the cold etc,

Anyway, I hope I live long enough to find out the answer.

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My husband, who is a skinny guy who has to eat a lot - well, I have told him he'd be the first to die in a famine. But he counters that he wouldn't because he could run faster than most other people to get what food there was. (This is where being perhaps hyperactive could be a survival technique.)

But, as I have also said, there are many genetic quirks that are not at all helpful in terms of survival, unless it is just to kill off some of the population. I know someone who has Huntington's Disease, which is passed down genetically, and it is just a downward spiral, having no survival advantage at all.

But the whole subject is interesting.

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RLS can start very early on in life as young as babies having it. Its mostly Primary RLS inherited type that people get symptoms at a younger age. Mine started when i was in my teens altho very mild and didnt need any meds. Primary RLS is usually progressive, mine become severe when i retired

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If it’s any use to your research my maiden name is a Viking name but, of course we have an enormous number of ancestors.

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Interesting. We all have an enormous number of ancestors, so some things can be hard to trace. Actually, I am not researching this much more. I think I have spent enough time on it, and have to go off in different directions, with different subjects.

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Noooooooooo!

Far too interesting!😂

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That’s an interesting idea! I have primary RLS and my brother has had his DNA tested. We’re part Scandinavian, ie Viking, a lot Irish, ie Celtic, and the rest from the middle part of England. So no Neanderthal here, I’m afraid. Could just be that as it’s English speakers on here, plus you can’t see the colours of our skin of course, that we think it’s mainly people of European heritage? Would be really interesting to know. There must be surveys where people’s ethnic origins were asked for, I’d have thought. Can’t see RLS being a throwback to any kind of useful evolutionary tool though, unless they needed someone who couldn’t sleep to stay by the fire all night, watching out for predators 🤣🤣, but then we’ve used dogs for that for at least 10,000 years, so perhaps not!

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Interesting. Also how much interest people have shown in my (humourously ) titled post. But I do think that a lot of people like to know where their ancestors came from, and with the ability today to find out more info with the use of DNA, it is possible to learn quite a bit.

It would be interesting to see if RLS is wide spread among other populations/races. But you are probably right about just English speakers on here and thus thinking it may be a European problem. Perhaps there are RLS sites in other languages on other continents. I haven't looked too hard to see.

And, also I don't see that it would be useful evolutionary-wise, either. It does bear thinking about, but there are a lot of genetic quirks that have no real advantage, besides ones that do.

I wonder if dogs can have RLS! I hope not! (Sometimes they look like it when they are sleeping, but I think they are just running during a dream.)

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