Vitamin D, Sun Exposure Lowers MS Risk

Researchers have long known about the role that vitamin D and sun exposure may play on multiple sclerosis. There have been studies that have shown how the said vitamin may have an effect on people suffering from MS. A recent research may further show proof that vitamin D and enough sun exposure may also lower the risk of multiple sclerosis in people.

Researchers from the Australian National University in Canberra have shown that people who spend more time in the sun and have higher levels of vitamin D may also be less likely to develop multiple sclerosis. The result of the study was published in the February 8, 2011 issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

According to Dr. Robyn Lucas, PhD of the Australian National University of Canberra and study author, “Previous studies have found similar results, but this is the first study to look at people who have just had the first symptoms of MS and haven’t even been diagnosed with the disease yet. Other studies have looked at people who already have MS—then it’s hard to know whether having the disease led them to change their habits in the sun or in their diet.”

The study involved 216 participants aged from 18 to 59 who experienced a first event of symptom typically seen in MS. This group was then matched with another 395 participants who had never shown any symptoms attributed to MS. The groups were of similar ages, gender as well as from the same regions in Australia.

The participants reported of sun exposure that they were able to get during the different periods of their lives. Through that, the researchers also measured the amount of skin damage the participants had due to sun exposure as well as the amount of melanin found in their skin. The vitamin D levels were also measured via blood tests.

The researchers found out that the risk of being diagnosed with a first event of MS decreased by 30 percent for each UV increase of 1000 kilojoules. The researchers also found that those who were found to have the most skin damage due to sun exposure were 60 percent less likely to develop that first MS event compared to those with the least amount of skin damage. Those who also were seen having the highest levels of vitamin D were also less likely to have been diagnosed with the first MS event than those found with the lowest vitamin D levels.

“Added together, the differences in sun exposure, vitamin D levels and skin type accounted for a 32-percent increase in a diagnosed first event from the low to the high latitude regions of Australia,” Lucas further added.


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