By Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute…
We have covered the affect to sunlight and diabetes several times, but most of the posts focused on type-2, which is the more common of the two and is becoming a pandemic. Type-2 results when the body produces plenty of insulin, but becomes resistant to its effects, leaving both blood sugar and insulin elevated. Type-1 diabetes is a totally different disease, although high blood sugar is still the result. Both of these diseases, however, correlate to low sunlight exposure. Type-2 is usually caused by atrocious eating habits and obesity, but sunlight deficiency associates with its risk. Either way, these diseases can lead to blindness, erectile dysfunction, neuropathy, heart disease, hypertension, obesity, kidney disease, amputation of limbs and death. The side-effects of diabetes are usually much more harmful than the diseases themselves.
Type-1 is a disease that afflicts many babies and young people and is sometimes known as “juvenile diabetes.” It is an autoimmune disease, such as multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis, and is totally different in its cause from type-2, which is caused by atrocious eating habits and obesity. Type one usually happens when the body’s own immune system attacks the pancreas, rendering it useless insofar as insulin production is concerned. The consumption of cow’s milk correlates very closely to contracting the disease by babies and very young children.
Here are some facts regarding the relationship between sunlight and Type-1. Australian research shows that the incidence of type-1 diabetes correlates closely with latitude; the southernmost part of the country, which has far less availability of sunlight, has about three times the incidence as the northernmost.[i] And in Newfoundland, Canada, an extremely strong inverse correlation exists between sunlight exposure and incidence.[ii] [iii] Similar results have been reported by Dr. Mohr and colleagues, who analyzed the correlation between type-one diabetes and sunlight exposure in 51 regions worldwide and drew the following conclusion: “An association was found between low UVB irradiance [sunlight exposure] and high incidence rates of type 1 childhood diabetes after controlling for per-capita health expenditure. Incidence rates of type 1 diabetes approached zero in regions worldwide with high UVB irradiance, adding new support to the concept of a role of vitamin D in reducing the risk of the disease.”[iv]
The latest study on type-1 and sunlight comes from Denmark, where researchers assessed the association between exposure to sunshine during gestation (pregnancy) and the risk of type 1 diabetes in Danish children at the age of 15 years.[v] The results were that more sunshine during the third gestational trimester was associated with a 40% reduced risk of contracting the disease at age 15.
Sunlight is so important for nearly every aspect of health. Be sure to take advantage of it, as it may be waiting right outside and beckoning you.
[i] Staples JA, Ponsonby AL, Lim LL, McMichael AJ. Ecologic analysis of some immune-related disorders, including type-1 diabetes, in Australia: latitude, regional ultraviolet radiation, and disease prevalence. Environmental Health Perspectives 2003;111:518-523.
[ii] Sloka S, Grant M, Newhook LA.. Time series analysis of ultraviolet B radiation and type-1 diabetes in Newfoundland. Pediatr Diabetes 2008;9:81-6.
[iii] Sloka S, Grant M, Newhook LA. The geospatial relation between UV solar radiation and type 1 diabetes in Newfoundland. Acta Diabetol 2010 M;47:73-8.
[iv] Mohr SB, Garland CF, Gorham ED, Garland FC. The association between ultraviolet B irradiance, vitamin D status and incidence rates of type 1 diabetes in 51 regions worldwide. Diabetologia. 2008;51:1391-8.
[v] Ramune Jacobsen, Peder Frederiksen, Berit L. Heitmann. Exposure to sunshine early in life prevented development of type 1 diabetes in Danish boys. Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism. December 2015 ISSN (Online).