Athletic performance and sun exposure.

Athletic Performance and sun exposure.

Almost no one realizes the dramatic improvement that sun exposure can make on athletic performance. Years ago I helped Dr. John Cannell obtain translations of many esoteric and decades-old studies that had been forgotten, probably due to the fact that sun lamps were used to create some of the improvements in athletics, and have fallen out of favor due to the sunscare movement. I co-authored a paper with Cannell, called Athletic Performance and Vitamin D.[1] That paper is the source of much of the material covered here, and it demonstrates the remarkable, positive effect of sun or other ultraviolet (UV) exposure on human performance. I would also strongly suggest that the readers avail themselves of Dr. Cannell’s book on the subject, called The Athlete’s Edge, which discusses in far greater detail the materials introduced here.

One of the salient studies on UV exposure took place in 1957 and assessed the influence of sun exposure on strength and performance over a two-year period.[2] During that time six subjects were able to increase athletic performance and muscle trainability through systematic UV exposure. But when vitamin D3 was used, it not only did not work, it inhibited the performance-enhancing effect of the UV. I sometimes fear the public is beginning to believe that if sun exposure is proven to enhance human health, one needs only to take a vitamin D pill. Don’t get pulled into that idea. Sun exposure will always be more important than any of the photoproducts whose production it stimulates.

Here are some of the other salient studies on sun exposure and performance. In 1938, Russian researchers demonstrated that a series of four UV treatments improved speed in the 100-meter dash compared to four non-irradiated students, when both groups were undergoing daily physical training.[3] The times improved from 13.51 seconds to 13.28 seconds in the non-irradiated group and from 13.63 to 12.62 seconds in the irradiated group. In other words, the UV-treated group improved by three-fourths of a second more than the non-UV group. That may seem like a relatively small improvement, but three-fourths of a second better time in a 100-meter dash could be the difference between first and last place!

German research from 1944 showed that the exposure of 32 medical students to UV, twice weekly during for six weeks, associated with a 13% improvement in endurance, whereas performance of a control group was unchanged.[4]

Other German research shows that the ability of a muscle to gain strength (trainability) is much better in summer than winter, and peaks in September.[5] In fact, the trainability in September was 2½ times higher than the average monthly trainability for the entire year.

So you who love athletics, don’t avoid the sun. It may make you a winner. But don’t burn.

Reaction time has also been shown to improve significantly in the sunnier months.[6] [7]

When we consider reaction time, muscle and bone strength, speed and endurance, we should realize that these measurements are not only important for athletes; they are important for all aspects of living for all people. Everyone wants to be stronger, quicker, and faster, as well as have more endurance in daily activities. So embrace the sun, but do it safely and don’t burn.

 

[1] Cannell JJ, Hollis BW, Sorenson MB, Taft TN, Anderson JJ. Athletic performance and vitamin D. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 May;41(5):1102-10.

[2] E. Seidl and Th. Hettinger. The Effect of Vitamin D3 on the Strength and Performance of a Healthy Adult. International Journal Physiology, including Industrial Physiology, Vol. 16, Pages 365-372 (1957).

[3] Gorkin Z, Gorkin MJ, Teslenko NE. [The effect of ultraviolet irradiation upon training for 100m sprint.] Fiziol Zh USSR. 1938;25:695-701.

[4] Lehmann G, Mueller EA. [Ultraviolet irradiation and altitude fitness.] Luftfahrtmedizin. 1944;9:37-43. [Article in German].

[5] Hettinger T, Muller EA.  Seasonal course of trainability of musculature.  Int Z Angew Physiol. 1956;16(2):90-4.

[6] Sigmund, R. The effect of ultra-violet rays on the human reaction time.  Strahlentherapie. 1956;101(4):623-9.

[7] Seidl E. [The effect of ultraviolet irradiation on reaction time.] Int Z Angew Physiol. 1958;17(4):333-40.

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Bright Light Therapy revs up the Sex Life.

By Marc Sorenson, EdD. Sunlight Institute…

At a meeting of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, a most interesting research report has emerged. The summary reads thusly: Exposure to bright light increases testosterone levels and leads to greater sexual satisfaction in men with low sexual desire. These are the results of a pilot randomised placebo-controlled trial.[i]

Men with low sexual desire were put in two groups; one group received bright light therapy from a light box; the other was treated with a light box that was not nearly so bright. Testosterone levels were measured in both groups. The experiment lasted two weeks, and the results were impressive. The men who had received the bright light therapy increased their sexual satisfaction scores increased by 300%. Testosterone levels also increased by 300% in the bright light group. The researchers believe that bright light therapy might have fewer side effects than drugs and offer at least equal results.

These results should not have been surprising. Long ago, light treatments were shown to remarkably increase testosterone levels. In 1939, Dr. Abraham Myerson measured initial levels of circulating testosterone in men and exposed their various body parts to UV.[ii] After five days of chest exposure sufficient to cause reddening, circulating testosterone increased by 120%. After eight days without additional UV exposure, testosterone returned to initial levels.  When the genital area was exposed, testosterone levels increased by 200%! Considering our sex-obsessed society, it is surprising that no studies followed up on Myerson’s work. Testosterone, after all, is important in sexual behavior, since it is the “love” hormone for both sexes.

 

If this information reaches the public, the interest in sunbathing may increase. That would be terrific, because sun exposure would also profoundly enhance the health of those who were soaking up the sun.

Is there anything that sun exposure can’t do? Just be careful not to burn in the sun.

[i] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160918214443.htm

[ii] Myerson, A.  Influence of ultraviolet radiation on excretion of sex hormones in the male.  Endocrinology 1939;25:7-12.

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New Research paper states that Sun exposure is less dangerous than vitamin D supplements.

In a new scientific paper, Dr. MS Razzaque shows that there may be some downsides to vitamin D supplementation, including “cardiovascular events and beyond.” He also states that “since hypovitaminosis D status usually reflects reduced sunlight exposure, the obvious primary replacement should be safe sunlight exposure, and not exogenous supplements.”[1]

The paper specifically mentions that avoiding sunlight exposure may influence the initiation and progression of different types of tumors [cancer], high blood pressure, type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis. It also points out that there may be some deleterious consequences of vitamin D supplementation, although in my opinion, the dosage would need to by quite high.

As I have indicated in many of my posts on the Sunlight Institute site, sun exposure is the most natural way to obtain vitamin D, and it has no toxicity, since it is self-regulated.

What wasn’t mentioned was the production of health-promoting substances when sun touches the skin, e.g. endorphins and nitric oxide. And of course, the sun helps the brain to produce serotonin and BDNF, which are critical for proper brain function.

So soak up your sunlight but don’t burn.

[1] Razzaque MS. Sunlight exposure: Do health benefits outweigh harm? J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2016 Sep 16. [Epub ahead of print].

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More Research shows that Sun Exposure thwarts Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

By Marc Sorenson, EdD. Sunlight institute… sun exposure

 

If only those who suffer from MS had known the truth when they were younger! Getting plenty of sun exposure might have saved them from the ravages of this horrible disease. Much has been written about the influence of vitamin D on MS, and in this blog, I have pointed out that sun exposure may be more important than vitamin D. A new study conducted in Australia, and presented at the 32nd Congress of the European Committee for Treatment and in MS in Research in London, England, is interesting in the way it was conducted.[1]

By questionnaire, the researchers used past and present sun exposure as a surrogate for vitamin D levels and concluded that historical, but not current, vitamin D levels protect against MS.

This was an erroneous procedure to measure the influence of vitamin D levels on MS. It has already been established that sun exposure per se may be the operative habit that protects against MS. And in my opinion, vitamin D levels may only be surrogates for sun exposure, not vice versa. And, sun exposure probably mitigates MS, independent of vitamin D.

One of the most compelling papers on sun and MS was produced by Dr. Robyn Lucas and colleagues.[2] Here are the salient points in their report called Ultraviolet radiation, vitamin D and multiple sclerosis:

  • There is strong evidence from observational studies that low past sun exposure is associated with an increased risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS).
  • Lower sun exposure or lower vitamin D status have been linked to more severe MS, that is, more frequent relapses and more rapid progression to disability.
  • Vitamin D supplementation trials for people with MS have shown improvement in immunological and MRI parameters, but with little convincing evidence of clinical benefit.
  • Higher levels of sun exposure may have benefits for MS-related immune parameters through both vitamin D and non-vitamin D pathways.
  • Exposure to ultraviolet radiation may result in immune tolerance that is beneficial for MS through upregulation of T and B regulatory cells, enhanced levels of cis-urocanic acid, alterations in dendritic cell trafficking as well as release of a range of other cytokines and chemokines.

To elucidate the last paragraph it is necessary to understand the vocabulary used. T cells are an integral part of the immune system that help rid the body of invading microorganisms. The regulatory T cells (or suppressor T cells) are a subpopulation of T cells which modulate the immune system and help prevent the body from attacking itself.[3] MS is another autoimmune disease in which the body is attacked its own immune system, which in the case of MS, destroys the myelin sheath. The regulatory, or T suppressor cells suppress these attacks, thereby preventing, abrogating or ameliorating the disease. B regulatory cells are also a part of the immune system and can, through their suppressive functions decrease inflammation, possibly through the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines.[4] Cis-urocanic acid is a chemical that is significantly lower in MS patients, and when stimulated by sun exposure, significantly reduces many indicators of MS.[5] [6] Dendritic cells are also messenger T cells that are essential in assisting sun exposure to decrease the immune response that effects autoimmune diseases.[7]

So let’s hear it for sun exposure as the very best therapy for MS. Be safe and don’t burn, and don’t use sunscreens, which can negate 99% of the sun’s vitamin D production.

[1] http://www.hcplive.com/conference-coverage/ectrims-2016/current-vitamin-d-doesnt-impact-ms-but-historical-exposure-does#sthash.ZF3nz3IN.dpuf

[2] Robyn M Lucas, Scott N Byrne, Jorge Correale, Susanne Ilschner & Prue H Hart. Ultraviolet radiation, vitamin D and multiple sclerosis. Neurodegener. Dis. Manag 2015 (epub ahead of print).

[3]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regulatory_T_cell (accessed November 24, 2015.)

[4] Min Yang, Ke Rui, Shengjun Wang and Liwei Lu. Regulatory B cells in autoimmune diseases. Cellular & Molecular Immunology (2013) 10, 122–132. Cellular & Molecular Immunology (2013) 10, 122–132.

[5] Jorge Correale and Mauricio Farez.S60 Multiple Sclerosis: Biomarkers: Clinical Phenotype Immune System Modulation in Multiple Sclerosis as a Result of Sun exposure: Role of cis-Urocanic Acid. Neurology April 6, 2012.  (names s

[6] Correale J, Farez MF. Modulation of multiple sclerosis by sun exposure: role of cis-urocanic acid. J Neuroimmunol. 2013 Aug 15;261(1-2):134-40.

[7] Breuer J, Schwab N, Schneider-Hohendorf T, Marziniak M, Mohan H, Bhatia U, Gross CC, Clausen BE, Weishaupt C, Luger TA, Meuth SG, Loser K, Wiendl H. Ultraviolet B light attenuates the systemic immune response in central nervous system autoimmunity. Ann Neurol. 2014 May;75(5):739-58.

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Sunscreen Dangers: Sunscreens may disrupt Progesterone Pathways and reduce Male Fertility.

By Marc Sorenson, EdD  Sunlight Institute… Sunscreen dangers..

Sperm count in men has dropped by more than half since 1950, possibly due to powerful chemicals that are finding their way into the water supply.[1] Now, the sperm that are still viable may have another problem, according to recent research: sunscreen chemicals are absorbed into the blood and carried into the sperm, which can render the sperm infertile.[2] [3] One investigation showed that an incredible 9% or more of the applied amount is absorbed through the skin.[4] Sunscreen chemicals also have potential “gender-bending” characteristics; they increase estrogen and decrease testosterone in men,[5] [6] and are also known to cause the feminization of fish. [7]And environmental pollution by these and similarly-structured chemicals are now thought to cause feminization in alligators and the gradual extinction of Florida panthers due to failure to breed.[8] Sunscreens also increase the absorption of pesticides through the skin. [9] [10] There are many more sunscreen dangers, but time and space will not permit us to discuss them all.

How does the system work to cause infertility? Many of the chemicals that filter out UV radiation can induce calcium signals in human sperm cells and mimic the effect of progesterone. This can render the sperm infertile. The aforementioned study that showed the influence of sunscreen chemicals was a lab study or “in vitro” investigation, using collected human sperm. It is not known if the same would happen in living human subjects, but it is likely.

These chemicals are known as endocrine disruptors, and with sperm count going down and many cancers increasing, they are not something I would recommend for public consumption.

Nature intends for us to cover up or seek the shade when we have had enough sun exposure. Nature also intends that we seek the sun to reap the benefit of it marvelous healthful benefits. Soak up the sun, but be sure not to burn. And don’t’ use sunscreens. There are too many sunscreen dangers, and they stop vitamin D production on the skin they cover.

[1] https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/study-finds-male-sperm-count-falling-dramatically-due-to-pollutants-in-wate.

[2] http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/14/health/sunscreen-sperm-male-fertility/index.html

[3] Rehfeld A, Dissing S, Skakkebæk NE

[4] Hayden CG, Roberts MS, Benson HA. Systemic absorption of sunscreen after topical application. Lancet 1997:350:863-64.

[5] Environmental Working Group: Americans Carry Body Burden of Toxic Sunscreen Chemical. March 25, 2008.  (available at http://www.ewg.org/node/26212).

[6] Ma R, Cotton B, Lichtensteiger W, Schlumpf M.  UV Filters with Antagonistic Action at Androgen Receptors in the MDA-kb2 Cell Transcriptional-Activation Assay.  Toxicological Sciences 2003;74:43-50.

[7] Kunz PY, Galicia HF, Fent K. Comparison of in vitro and in vivo estrogenic activity of UV filters in fish. Toxicol Sci 2006:90:349-61.

[8] Pickart, L.  The Chemical Sunscreen Health Disaster.  2000-2008.  (available at http://www.skinbiology.com/toxicsunscreens.html)

[9] Brand RM, Pike J, Wilson RM, Charron AR. Sunscreens containing physical UV blockers can increase transdermal absorption of pesticides. Toxicol Ind Health. 2003;19:9-16

[10] Pont AR, Charron AR, Brand RM. Active ingredients in sunscreens act as topical penetration enhancers for the herbicide 2,4 dichlorophenoxyacetic acid. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2004;195:348-54.

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The latest on Sun Exposure and Prostate Cancer: more Sun is better

Sun Exposure by Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute…

A recent study from Canada produced some intriguing information regarding the influence sun exposure may have on prostate cancer (PC). A total of 1,638 men with prostate cancer and 1,697 without, were assessed between 1994 and 1997 to determine the amount of time each spent outdoors exposed to ultraviolet light (UV).[1] The men were a mixture of Indians, Asians, and Caucasians.

The men were assessed for their sun habits by determining how many hours per day they spent in the sun, whether sun exposure was moderate (2-6 hours per day) or high (>6 hours per day). Interestingly, men who were in the highest level of sun exposure had a reduced risk of PC of about 32% compared to unexposed men (the control group). There was no difference when moderate levels of sun exposure were compared to risk of PC. This would indicate that more sun is better, at least in this single study

The men who were of Asian and Indian descent started out with a profoundly reduced risk of PC, having only a 17% risk or 25% risk of PC, respectively. I opine that because those two ethnic groups consume much higher levels of vegetation than Caucasians, they are more protected.

There are probably 20 studies that show a protective effect of sun exposure on PC. Early research by Dr. Esther John and here colleagues is only one of many that reported a dramatic protective influence of sun exposure on prostate cancer. They compared the lifetime sun exposure of 450 white men with advanced prostate cancer to that of 455 white men who did not have cancer.[2] The men were divided into quintiles (fifths) according to the amount of exposure they had received.  Subjects in the highest fifth of sun exposure had only 51% of the risk of prostate cancer as did those in the lowest quintile.

So, most research shows an impressive association between higher sun exposure and lower risk of prostate cancer. Men, remember to be safe as you soak up that glorious sun. Don’t burn, and be sure to develop a good tan if you can. If you don’t tan, then a very short time in the sun is sufficient, after which you should wear a big hat and long-sleeved shirt. And please don’t use cancer-causing sunscreens.

[1] Peters CE, Demers PA, Kalia S, Hystad P, Villeneuve PJ, Nicol AM, Kreiger N, Koehoorn MW. Occupational exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation and the risk of prostate cancer. Occup Environ Med. 2016 Jul 27. [Epub ahead of print]

[2] John EM, Schwartz GG, Koo J, Van Den Berg D, Ingles SA.  Sun exposure, vitamin D receptor gene polymorphisms, and risk of advanced prostate cancer.  Cancer Res 2005;65(12):5470-79.

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Sun exposure, through Vitamin D production, protects against acute Heart Attack.

By Marc Sorenson, EdD.  Sunlight institute. Embracing the sun. 

Heart disease is our number-one killer. It is caused primarily by consumption of animal products and lack vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. However, sun exposure and vitamin D may also have profound effects on the disease.

Italian research shows that vitamin D deficiency is closely associated with heart attacks.[1] The researchers measured vitamin D levels in 478 heart attack patients and discovered an average level of 14.5 ng/ml, which is very deficient. Obviously, there had not been enough sunbathing among this group, and the researchers noted that the risk of heart attack was lower during summer season. Nevertheless, vitamin D levels were still far too low.

The study recommended that “exposure to sunlight may be a cost-saving therapeutic strategy for the management of vitamin D deficiency.”

It is wonderful to see such advice from medical or nutritional experts. However, I opine that low vitamin D may not be the primary photoproduct of sun exposure that exerts a protective influence against heart attacks. Nitric oxide, also produced by sun exposure of the skin, has the ability to impressively lower blood pressure. High blood pressure (hypertension) is a major risk factor for heart disease and heart attacks. See one of my previous posts on blood pressure at http://sunlightinstitute.org/high-blood-pressure-hypertension-caused-low-vitamin-d-levels-sun-deprivation/.

For someone who wishes to stop heart disease in its tracks, don’t eat the food that causes the disease. In addition get a few minutes of midday sun without sunscreen as often as possible. It could help to save your life! Remember not to burn. At the first sign of redness, seek shade or cover up.

[1] Aleksova A, Belfiore R, Carriere C, Kassem S, La Carrubba S, Barbati G, Sinagra G. Vitamin D Deficiency in Patients with Acute Myocardial Infarction: An Italian Single-Center Study. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2015;85(1-2):23-30.

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Does Sun Exposure help to prevent Acne?

By Marc Sorenson, EdD. Sunlight Institute…

Acne is a plague among teenagers, and many who are older also suffer. Can sunlight and vitamin D play a role in preventing it?  Perhaps so. A new (August 25) study shows that vitamin D deficiency was detected in 48% of patients with acne, but in only 22.5% of healthy controls (no acne).[1] This would indicate that sun exposure has a prophylactic effect on acne. The level of vitamin D was also inversely associated with the severity of the disease, meaning that it was probably the mechanism, perhaps by strengthening the immune system, by which the disease was thwarted. Improvement in the inflammatory lesions caused by the acne was also noted with a vitamin D supplementation program.

This reminds me of a young man, with terrible acne, who attended our health institute in Sunny Southern Utah. Our area is blessed with about 300 days per year of sunlight. After three months, his acne disappeared. Sunlight is known to cure psoriasis, eczema and other skin diseases. Why not acne? Of course, our nutrition program may also have helped him.

One more reason to safely embrace the sun.

[1] Lim SK, Ha JM, Lee YH, Lee Y, Seo YJ, Kim CD, Lee JH, Im M. Comparison of Vitamin D Levels in Patients with and without Acne: A Case-Control Study Combined with a Randomized Controlled Trial. PLoS One. 2016 Aug 25;11(8):e0161162.

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Chinese Research states that Elderly People need more Sun Exposure!

By Marc Sorenson, EdD. Sunlight Institute… Sun exposure.

New research from China suggests that sun exposure, through vitamin D production, contributes improvements in bone health, mood and cognitive functions. It also says that sun exposure, through the regulation of melatonin also helps to properly establish circadian rhythms, improve sleep quality, and optimizes physical and social activity in the elderly.[1] They might have also mentioned that cognitive decline is much more prevalent among nursing-home residents that do not participate in outdoor activity; those who have 20 or more outdoor activities per month have no decline whatsoever![2]

This is especially important for institutionalized elderly people who tend to spend time in their rooms and asleep in front of the TV. The researchers suggest that the elderly should perform outdoor activities for 20-30 minutes per day, five days per week. They also suggest that the outdoor environment be more accessible to the residents and that some of their programmed activities should be held outdoors.

This is excellent advice and really hits home with me, since my wife and I have a church calling in which we conduct meetings and otherwise take care of the spiritual needs of the residents at an assisted-care facility. We see the physical and mental deterioration that takes place among the people who seldom get outside. We are always suggesting to our charges, and to the people who run the facility, that they get regular sun exposure and eat correctly, both of which would make dramatic differences in their abilities to cope.

Did you know that the risk of being admitted to a nursing home can be predicted by vitamin D levels?  In one investigation, those whose serum vitamin D levels were in the deficient category had three-and-one-half times the risk of being admitted to a nursing home as those whose levels were in the highest category.[3] Of course, people with low vitamin D levels are suffering from sun-exposure deficiency. Let’s take care of our elderly by being sure that they enjoy plenty of safe sun exposure.

[1] Lin TC, Liao YC. The Impact of Sunlight Exposure on the Health of Older Adults. Hu Li Za Zhi. 2016 Aug;63(4):116-22.

[2] Suzuki T, Murase S. Influence of outdoor activity and indoor activity on cognition decline: use of an infrared sensor to measure activity. Telemed J E Health. 2010 Jul-Aug;16(6):686-90

[3]  Visser, M. et al.  Low serum vitamin concentrations of 25 hydroxyvitamin D in older persons and the risk of nursing home admission.  Am J Clin Nutr 2006;84:616-22.

 

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To avoid allergies, be sure to be born in sunny seasons!

By Marc Sorenson, EdD. Sunlight Institute…

I suppose that it’s asking a bit much to tell someone to be born in the right season. But if it were possible, it would probably help a person to avoid some allergies. A most interesting scientific study from Korea explored the relationship among birth season, sunlight exposure during infancy, and allergic disease. It came to some very intriguing conclusions that indicate that sun exposure during pregnancy, and during the first two years of life, is exceptionally important. [1] The researchers explored relationships between birth season, sunlight exposure, and several allergic diseases.

They introduced their research by stating that “The recent increase in the prevalence of allergic diseases is hypothetically attributed to immune dysregulation in turn caused by a reduction in exposure to sunlight.”

Here are their findings:

  1. The prevalence of atopic dermatitis, a skin allergy, was 24% higher in children born in winter than those born in summer.
  2. Birth in winter was associated with a 56% increase in the prevalence of food allergy (FA).
  3. In addition, the lifetime prevalence of allergic diseases except food allergy (FA) was higher in children who had experienced inadequate sunlight in the first two years of life, compared to those children who had adequate exposure. In those whose sunlight exposure was inadequate, the following increases in risk were noted:
  4. Asthma 40% increased risk
  5. Allergic rhinitis (AR) 40%
  6. Atopic dermatitis (AD) 26%

The researchers concluded that “Birth in winter may be associated with development of AD and FA. Inadequate sunlight exposure before the age of 24 months might possibly increase the risks of development of asthma, AR, and AD.”

Great research, and the results are what we would have expected. There is almost no limit to the disease-preventing power of the Sun.

[1] Hwang JM, Oh SH, Shin MY. The relationships among birth season, sunlight exposure during infancy, and allergic disease. Korean J Pediatr. 2016 May;59(5):218-25. doi: 10.3345/kjp.2016.59.5.218. Epub 2016 May 31.

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