7 February 2013
Should we all turn into sun worshippers?
A new study has shown that those who are regularly exposed to sunlight have a reduced risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
The research looked at participants in two phases of a nurse’s health study. The first tracked the health of over 120,000 nurses since 1976, who were aged between 30 and 55. The second phase looked at a further 115,500 aged between 25 and 42 from 1989. Exposure to the sun was estimated according to geographical location, also taking into account exposure at birth and by the age of 15.
1,314 women went on to develop rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammation of the joints which can cause pain and swelling. Among the nurses in the first phase, a high exposure was associated with a reduced risk of developing the conditions, whereas no benefit was found for the nurses in the second phase.
The authors said, “Differences in sun protective behaviours, for example greater use of sun block in younger generations, may explain the disparate results. Our study adds to the growing evidence that exposure to UV-B light is associated with decreased risk of rheumatoid arthritis. The mechanisms are not yet understood, but could be mediated by the cutaneous production of vitamin D and attenuated by use of sunscreen or sun avoidant behaviour.”
It is still not recommended to go out in the sun without protection as it can lead to other diseases, such as skin cancer. More research needs to be conducted into this area to provide more conclusive results.