Sunshine and Anaphylaxis—another Reason to Embrace the Sun.

Sunshine and Anaphylaxis—another Reason to Embrace the Sun.

By Marc Sorenson, EdD…

Anaphylaxis, or anaphylactic shock, is an extreme allergic reaction to a protein to which a person has been previously exposed.  It is characterized by a profound drop in blood pressure, severe itching and hives, and breathing difficulties. Untreated, it can be lethal.  A common cause is bee sting, although many drugs and foods trigger reactions in individuals.

Although anaphylaxis has many causes, one of the major associations with the reaction is sunlight, being much more prevalent in areas with less sunlight.[1] [2] [3] Interestingly, the frequency of hospital admissions for the condition has increased 5-7 fold in the last 10-15 years, although death from anaphylaxis has not increased.[4] That could be due to increasingly fast response to the condition by medical personnel.

Other research indicative of an association of sunlight deficiency to anaphylaxis involves the use of the anti-anaphylaxis drug, Epipen. When geographical location in the USA is compared to the number of prescriptions for the drug, a strong north-south gradient is apparent, [5] with the highest rates in Massachusetts and the lowest in Hawaii. People residing in southern states have about 25-30% of the risk of those residing in the New England. The same relationship is observed in Australia, where there EpiPen prescriptions are more frequent in the south than the north[6] as are hypoallergenic formula prescriptions.[7] (In Australia, the south is colder and has less sunlight, due to being in the southern hemisphere).

A similar relationship in the U.S. is shown with visits to the emergency room for acute allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, especially food-induced anaphylaxis.[8] The northeast region had more visits than the South. These studies establish that sunlight is protective against this potent reaction. Other research shows a similar geographic gradient with higher frequencies recorded in areas of little sun exposure,[9] such as those in children residing in northern countries.[10]

Regular, non-burning sunlight is an essential ingredient in the vibrant-health recipe for ourselves and our children. Embrace the sun!

[1] Tejedor-Alonso M A, Moro-Moro M, Múgica-García MV. Epidemiology of Anaphylaxis: Contributions from the Last 10 Years. J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol. 2015;25(3):163-75.

[2] Mullins RJ, Camargo CA. Latitude, sunlight, vitamin D, and childhood food allergy/anaphylaxis. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2012 Feb;12(1):64-71.

[3] Rudders SA, Camargo CA Jr. Sunlight, vitamin D and food allergy. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2015 Aug;15(4):350-7.

[4] Tejedor Alonso MA, Moro Moro M, Múgica García MV. Epidemiology of anaphylaxis. Clin Exp Allergy. 2015 Jun;45(6):1027-39.

[5] Camargo, C. et al. Regional differences in EpiPen prescriptions in the United States: the potential role of vitamin D. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2007;120:128-30

[6] Mullins RJ, Clark S, Camargo CA Jr. Regional variation in epinephrine autoinjector prescriptions in Australia: more evidence for the vitamin D-anaphylaxis hypothesis. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2009 Dec;103(6):488-95.

[7] Mullins RJ, Clark S, Camargo CA Jr. Regional variation in infant hypoallergenic formula prescriptions in Australia. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2010 Mar;21(2 Pt 2):e413-20.

[8] Rudders SA, Espinola JA, Camargo CA Jr. North-south differences in US emergency department visits for acute allergic reactions. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2010 May;104(5):413-6.

[9] Tejedor Alonso MA, Moro M, Múgica García MV. Epidemiology of anaphylaxis. Clin Exp Allergy. 2015 Jun;45(6):1027-39.

[10] Mullins RJ, Camargo CA. Latitude, sunlight, vitamin D, and childhood food allergy/anaphylaxis. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2012 Feb;12(1):64-71.

 

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