A new study revealed that consistent childhood exposure to sunlight can trim the risk of multiple sclerosis (MS) in the long run. MS is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system targets its own nerve cells.
The condition’s most common symptoms are fatigue, eyesight issues, lack of coordination and loss of balance. The disease can take a heavy toll one the patient’s quality of life and it has no cure. So, researchers are very focused on preventing it.
The causes remain unclear, with the most usual suspects being family history, lifestyle choices, and the environment. Women are more likely to be affected by the condition than men. Smoking and low vitamin D levels have also been tied to higher risk of MS.
A research team at the University of British Columbia in Canada has found an additional risk factor: not enough exposure to sunlight during childhood and early adulthood.
The study, which appeared this week in Neurology, suggests that people growing up in sunnier countries have a lower risk of being diagnosed with MS than their peers who grew up in less sunny environments.
Exposure to Sunlight My Cut MS Risk by Nearly a Half
The conclusion seems logical, as lower exposure to sunlight directly affects vitamin D levels, which can lead to severe deficits. Yet, the latest study is the first to analyze the link between poor sunlight exposure and the risk of MS as people grow up.
The latest study involved 151 women who live with MS and 235 healthy women. The average age of the participants was 40. All women grew up in the U.S. but in different locations.
Volunteers were asked to fill out questionnaires on the frequency of exposure to sunlight during winter and summer months as they grew up. Researchers found that there were three groups: participants with low, moderate, and high exposure to UVB light respectively.
The study found that the group with the highest exposure to sunlight during childhood and early maturity had 45% lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis of all participants.
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