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Get more sun, vitamin D to ward off MS risk--study

Dr. Lucas was quick to point out that though moderate sun exposure seems to protect against MS, people must not overdo it because sun exposure has also been linked to skin cancer.

A new study done in Australia has revealed a startling finding that people who get more sun and vitamin D have lower chances of getting multiple sclerosis than those who do not get enough sun and have lower Vitamin D levels.

Multiple sclerosis is a condition in which the protective coat around nerve fibers begins to wear away, which makes transmission of nerve signals between the brain and the body difficult.

Symptoms commonly associated with MS are problems with balance and muscle coordination, memory loss and loss of ability to think logically.

The findings have confirmed previous reports which showed that people staying away from the equator are at a greater likelihood of suffering from MS than those who stay close to the equator.

It is highly likely that more sun, and consequently more Vitamin D, is a key reason.

Dr. Thomas Mack, who is a student of MS at the University of Southern California and was not involved with the research, said, “We've known for decades that the farther away from the equator you live and grew up, the higher the risk of MS.

“The question is, what is it that's responsible for that increase? Sunlight is a good bet, and of course vitamin D is a function of sunlight exposure."

How study was carried out?
The study was spearheaded by Dr. Robyn Lucas of The Australian National University. He chose 216 adults for the study who were beginning to develop symptoms of MS.

For the control group, Dr. Lucas selected a group of 395 people from similar regions of Australia who were of the same age and gender but did not exhibit any signs or symptoms of MS.

The subjects in both groups were questioned about how much time they spent in the sun and if they had lived at a different area sometime in their lives.

Their skin damage owing to the sun and levels of Vitamin D were measured prior to the study.

More sun protects against MS
The comprehensive study revealed that on average, people who showed symptoms of MS were exposed to a lower dose of UV radiation than those who did not exhibit any symptoms.

These people were also half as likely to have a significant level of skin damage caused due to sun exposure. Additionally, vitamin D levels were about 5 to 10 percent lower in subjects with MS than those without MS.

The findings have confirmed previous reports which showed that people staying away from the equator are at a greater likelihood of catching MS than those who stay close to the equator.

Dr. Lucas was quick to point out that though moderate sun exposure seems to protect against MS, people must not overdo it because sun exposure has also been linked to skin cancer.

The take-home lesson is to get adequate sun exposure every now and then for optimal health.