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LINK BETWEEN SUNLIGHT AND MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
What is multiple sclerosis?
It is a neurological disorder that affects your central nervous system. In this disorder, the immune system is attacked and the protective layer around your nerve fibre is damaged. Due to this, your brain is unable to send proper signals to your body.
This new study is published in the online issue of Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology. It follows past research on the link between increased ultraviolet exposure in childhood and lower odds of adult multiple sclerosis.
As many as 332 participants aged between 3 to 22, and who had multiple sclerosis for an average of seven months, were included in the study. Their locations and amount of sun exposure were matched by age and sex to 534 participants without the condition.
According to the research, 19 percent of the respondents mentioned that they spent less than 30 minutes daily outdoors during the previous summer, compared to 6 per cent of those who did not have multiple sclerosis. Also, participants who spent an average of 30 minutes to one hour outdoors daily had a 52 percent lower chance of the condition, compared to those who spent an average of fewer than 30 minutes outdoors daily.
“Sun exposure is known to boost Vitamin D levels,” said co-senior author Emmanuelle Waubant, MD, PhD, professor in the UCSF Department of Neurology and of the Weill Institute for Neurosciences.
“It also stimulates immune cells in the skin that have a protective role in diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Vitamin D may also change the biological function of the immune cells and, as such, play a role in protecting against autoimmune diseases,” added Waubant.
Multiple sclerosis usually strikes adults between the ages of 20 to 50, some 3 to 5 per cent of the approximately one million patients in the United States with the condition begin experiencing symptoms in childhood.
Does sunscreen reduce sunlight effect?
Waubant says the use of sunscreen does not appear to reduce the therapeutic effects of sunlight in warding off multiple sclerosis.
The researchers are yet to ascertain through clinical trials if “increasing sun exposure or vitamin D supplementation can prevent the development of MS or alter disease course post-diagnosis”.