Sun Exposure positively influences Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

Sun Exposure positively influences Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

sun exposureBy Marc Sorenson, EdD, for sun exposure.

According to a new study, people with MS feel better when they spend more time in the sunshine.[1] Not only will they feel better, but they will have lower rates of fatigue, and a slower progression to disability. None of this should be a surprise, since similar results have been reported for decades. For example, in 1922 Dr. Charles Davenport wrote a paper entitled, “Multiple Sclerosis from the standpoint of geographic distribution and race.[2] He analyzed the MS rate of military draftees and compared it to their states of origin. The highest rates were found in men who grew up in Michigan, Wisconsin, and the extreme northwest—all areas with low sun availability. There were few cases of MS among those who grew up in southern states, where sun exposure is abundant. He also noted that those from urban areas, which have lower sun availability than rural areas, had 50% higher MS rates than those from rural areas.  Similar studies confirm that relationship.[3] [4]

Another interesting research paper demonstrated that sun exposure, while obviously being critical in the production of vitamin D, had its own profound influence in lessening the degeneration of nerves (neurodegeneration) in those with MS.[5] By measuring whole brain volume (WBV) and grey-matter volume (GMV) by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the scientists determined that greater summer sun exposure predicted greater WBV and GMV in MS patients. Interestingly though, when vitamin D levels were measured, they had no influence on the positive effects of sun exposure with WBV or GMV. The researchers concluded: “Sun exposure may have direct effects on MRI measures of neurodegeneration in MS, independently of vitamin D.”

Be sure that you soak up your share of sunlight, without burning of course. It may indeed save your life!

[1] https://multiplesclerosisnewstoday.com/2017/02/24/actrims2017-sun-exposure-may-lower-fatigue-slow-disability-progression-in-ms/

[2] Davenport, C.  Multiple Sclerosis from the standpoint of geographic distribution and race.  Arch Neurol Psychiatry 1922;8:

[3] Acheson ED, Bachrach CA, Wright FM. Some comments on the relationship of the distribution of multiple sclerosis to altitude, solar radiation and other variables. Acta Psychiat (Scand) 1960;35 (suppl 147):132-47.  51-58

[4] Norman JE Jr, Kurtzke JF, Beebe GW. Epidemiology of multiple sclerosis in USA veterans: 2. Latitude, climate, and risk of multiple sclerosis. J Chron Dis 1983;36:551-59

[5] Zivadinov R, Treu CN, Weinstock-Guttman B, Turner C, Bergsland N, O’Connor K, Dwyer MG, Carl E, Ramasamy DP, Qu J, Ramanathan M. Interdependence and contributions of sun exposure and vitamin D to MRI measures in multiple sclerosis. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2013 Oct;84(10):1075-81.

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