Sun Exposure in Youth Helps Prevent Multiple Sclerosis

Sun Exposure in Youth Helps Prevent Multiple Sclerosis

preventing Multiple SclerosisSun exposure is crucial to preventing multiple sclerosis (MS), the terrible, debilitating autoimmune disease in which T-cells initiate an inflammatory response against myelin, the protective cover of nerves.[1],[2] This leaves the nerves bare and susceptible to “short circuiting,” a process known as demyelination. This attack prevents proper functioning within the brain and body, which leads to a variety of symptoms like vision changes, muscle spasms, and numbness. These symptoms profoundly decrease the ability to function and destroy the quality of life.

We have known for decades that people who live in areas of low sun exposure, such as far-northern or far southern countries, have a far greater risk of contracting MS than those who live in countries closer to the equator. In fact, there is more than 100 times the risk of MS in far northern as in equatorial areas, where sun is intense, and the rate of MS approaches zero.[3],[4],[5]

I ran across an interesting study demonstrating that the age at which the low sun exposure occurs is also a predictive factor in the risk of MS.[6]  It showed that in Norway, the amount of sun exposure in the period of life between 16-18 years of age was critical in predicting the disease. Those youngsters who experienced the lowest sun exposure during those ages were 83% more likely to develop MS. The same research showed that in Italy the critical period was between birth and age 5 years, with those receiving the lowest sun exposure being 56% more likely to develop MS.

I spite of incontrovertible research that proves regular, non-burning sun exposure is critical for human health, the sunscare movement continues to promote the idea that we should avoid the sun. The blood is on their hands.

[1] Racke, M.  Immunopathogenesis of multiple sclerosis.  Ann Indian Acad Neurol. 2009 Oct–Dec; 12(4): 215–220.

[2] Markovic-Plese S, McFarland HF.  Immunopathogenesis of the multiple sclerosis lesion.  Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep 2001;1:257-62

[3] Alter M, Yamoor M, Harshe M.  Multiple sclerosis and nutrition.  Arch Neuroll974;31:267-72.

[4] Kurtkze, J. Geography in multiple sclerosis.  J Neurol1977;215:1-26.

[5] Hayes CE, Cantorna MT, DeLuca HF.  Vitamin D and multiple sclerosis.  Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 1997;216:21-27

[6] Bjørnevik K, Riise T, Casetta I, Drulovic J, Granieri E. et al. Sun exposure and multiple sclerosis risk in Norway and Italy: The EnvIMS study. Mult Scler. 2014 Jul;20(8):1042-9.

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