Exposure to UV rays helps boost vitamin D, which in turn could protect against autoimmune diseases. The results of the study were published in the online issue of “Neurology,” the journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
The study follows earlier work by other researchers who demonstrated an association between increased exposure to UV light in childhood and a lower likelihood of multiple sclerosis (MS) in adults. The study included 332 participants aged 3 to 22, who had suffered from MS for an average of seven months. Their locations and amount of sun exposure were matched by age and gender in 534 participants without MS, the researchers reported in their study.
In questionnaires completed by participants with MS or their parents, 19% reported spending less than 30 minutes per day outdoors in the past summer, compared to 6% of those without MS. . When the researchers adjusted the risks of MS, such as smoking and female sex, they found that participants who spent an average of 30 minutes to an hour outdoors per day had a 52% lower risk of MS, per compared to those who spent an average of less than more than 30 minutes outdoors per day. “Sun exposure is known to increase vitamin D levels,” said Emmanuelle Waubant, co-lead author, MD, PhD, professor in the Department of Neurology at UCSF and at the Weill Institute for Neurosciences.
“It also stimulates immune cells in the skin which have a protective role in diseases such as MS. Vitamin D may also alter the biological function of immune cells and, as such, play a role in protecting against them. autoimmune diseases, ”Waubant added. While MS typically strikes adults between the ages of 20 and 50, about 3 to 5 percent of an estimated one million patients in the United States begin to experience symptoms in childhood.
Pediatric-onset MS is initially very inflammatory but takes longer to progress than adults, with symptoms of secondary progression, such as moderate to severe weakness, poor coordination, and bowel and bladder control. , occurring on average 28 years after the onset of the disease, according to experts. However, these disability limits are reached approximately 10 years earlier than in adult MS. The researchers also found an association with the intensity of sunlight and estimated that Florida residents would be 21% less likely than New York residents to have MS. They noted that sun exposure was “dose-dependent,” the longer the exposure, the lower the risk. And even exposure in the first year of life seemed to protect against MS, they said.
Fortunately, the use of sunscreen does not appear to reduce the therapeutic effects of sunlight in preventing MS, noted Waubant, who is also director of the Pediatric Regional Center for Multiple Sclerosis at UCSF. Clinical trials are needed to determine whether “increased sun exposure or vitamin D supplementation can prevent the development of MS or alter the course of the disease after diagnosis,” she said.
During this time, “advise regularly spending at least 30 minutes in the sun a day, especially in summer, using sun protection as needed, especially for first-degree relatives of MS patients, perhaps intervention useful in reducing the incidence of MS “. Limited sun exposure and / or low vitamin D levels have been associated with other conditions. These include Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and other types of dementia, as well as schizophrenia and other autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes, Crohn’s disease, and lupus. (ANI)
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