30+ Minutes Of Sunlight For Children & Adolescents Can Reduce MS Risk:
One of the great things about ongoing research is that it helps uncover things we never could have imagined.
Many times we think we’re “right”, when it’s really just our best guess.
As a doctor friend once quoted from his first professor, “Half of what we’re about to teach you is wrong. The problem is we don’t know which half.”
In that quest for knowledge, !SCIENCE! can lead to some pretty weird and freaky territories and conclusions.
And in the health space, there are not too many things freakier than diseases we haven’t cured.
But if researchers from ANU & UCSF have anything to say about it, the lifespan of one disease may have its days numbered…
The Short Answer:
- Ongoing research can uncover overlooked or uncommon solutions to current problems.
- Some of the most mystifying diseases that exist are the auto-immune kind.
- UCSF and ANU ran a study on 332 Multiple-Sclerosis sufferers between the ages of 3&22 with 534 subjects for comparison.
- 19% of MS sufferers spent less than 30 minutes/day outside during the previous summer.
- During the same time only 6% of subjects without it spent the same amount of time there.
- 18% of those with MS spent 1-2 hours outside, while 25% of those without it spent the same time.
- In the whole dataset, subjects who spent 30-60 minutes/day outside had a 52% lower chance of getting the disease.
- For the same overview, subjects that spent 60-120 minutes/day in the same conditions had an 81% lower incidence of MS.
- Study authors stress that proper sun-safety is still important and sunscreens do not negate the positive effects of exposure.
- They also point out that sun exposure in the first year of a child’s life can have a great impact at reducing the likelihood of MS.
- Location also matters. People who live in Florida have a 21% lower chance of getting the disease than those living at the same latitude as New York City.
- The authors would also like to study if sun exposure or vitamin d supplementation can change the course of the disease, especially if caught early.
- Note: One of the universities involved in the current study has discovered one of the mechanisms by which MS functions and they already have a drug candidate to try to stop it.
Read on to find out the details…
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Some of the freakiest diseases & disorders we have are from auto-immune conditions.
Why the hell would a body attack itself instead of things like pathogens that get in through cuts or you know, dining at Taco Bell?
Maybe the key lies in something like immunotherapy for The Big C, where they actually use targeting-agents to get the immune system to go after the disease?
One of the diseases that seems to do this is MS.
But researchers are also finding a few keys to eventually stop this thing.
In a small study of about 866 combined subjects, aged 3-22, people were surveyed about their sun exposure over the previous summer.
534 of these subjects were present as a comparison or control as they did not have MS versus the other 332 who did.
After survey data was collected & tabulated, it was found for subjects who had MS, 19% spent 30 minutes or less/day outside during the summer.
Only 6% of the comparison subjects without MS spent that little time outside.
At the next level up, 18% of subjects with the disease spent 1-2 hours/day in the sun, but 25% of those without it spent that long.
Then to wrap up the whole dataset, the team found that even controlling for all the risk factors they could imagine,
Subjects who spent 30-60 minutes/day outside during the previous summer had a 52% lower incidence vs. those spending less than 30 minutes.
And those who spent 60-120 minutes/day in that window had an 81% lower chance of having MS than those spending the lowest bracket of time outdoors.
The main study author went on to stress that you have to be careful and manage risk while going outside during the summer.
But luckily, the use of sunscreen did not affect the results and apparent health-benefits.
In other interesting details, sun exposure in the first year of a child’s life was associated with lower rates of MS also.
And location!, location!, location! matters too.
Subjects who live in places like Florida have it a little easier in that way and are 21% less likely to eventually get the disease than others who live at latitudes like New York or further north.
(the standard metric is usually no farther away north or south of the equator than Atlanta)
+Interestingly the UCSF/ANU study is a little like our Thinking Out Loud guess from years ago.
The note also has to be made that the study can only yet show correlation and not actually prove causation; but boy, does it look like it makes sense.
There may have also been a few errors that were not controlled-for, due to the questionnaires being self-reported and based on recall of past events.
The next steps Emanuelle and her colleagues are interested in trying is to see if increased sun exposure or vitamin d supplementation can change the direction of the disorder, especially if it’s caught early.
And if those research results aren’t freaky enough,
Reduced sun exposure & vitamin d have also been associated with psychological & brain disorders like dementia and Parkinson’s, or even other auto-immunes like diabetes, lupus, or even Crohn’s disease.
BONUS ROUND!, An awesome update for the MS world!
As if it weren’t already fantastic that Australia’s National University team is working with UCSF to ferret-out early-prevention methods for MS.
It looks like they may have figured out the dysfunctional mechanism behind it, or at least a very big piece.
Part of the immune system’s white blood-cell component for killing off pathogens forms structures called NETs.
But ANU researchers found that in some ways these react with killer cells called Th17s that causes over-production/activation of them.
And not only do they have some new ideas on how to target it now,
They already have a drug originally designed to treat serious infections as a repurposing-candidate to start mitigating the harmful action of MS before they can cure the condition completely.
Watch out, MS! Australia National University is coming after you!
They could be a result of sun exposure on the skin, plant chemicals and spores in the air you’d breathe, mild immune-system activation, just getting oblique light from the sky in your eyes, who knows.
But the list of benefits is impressive, including:
1) Better Immune System Function
2) Reduced Blood Pressure
3) Lower Stress
4) Improved Mood
5) Reduced Anxiety & Depression
6) Increased Ability to Focus
-And several others.
So who knows -exactly- how all of these things really work,
But as with the researchers trying to help babies, children, and young adults avoid MS or cure it for those afflicted, there seems to be a very interesting common thread in environmentally-derived health factors.
• Source(s): AAN | UCSF
• More Coverage: ANU
• Source Studies:
•Neurology – Association Between Time Spent Outdoors and Risk of Multiple Sclerosis
•Nature.Comm – Neutrophil extracellular traps and their histones promote Th17 cell differentiation directly via TLR2