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STUDY: Sun exposure may slow disability in MS

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  • STUDY: Sun exposure may slow disability in MS

    Sunlight exposure and sun sensitivity associated with disability progression in multiple sclerosis

    MB D'hooghe
    National Centre For Multiple Sclerosis, Melsbroek, Belgium
    P Haentjens
    Center for Outcomes Research and Laboratory for Experimental Surgery, Universitair Ziekenhuis Brussel, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium
    G Nagels
    National Centre For MS, Melsbroek/Service d’orthopédagogie Clinique, Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences, University of Mons, Belgium
    M Garmyn
    Department of Dermatology, Universitaire Ziekenhuizen, Leuven, Belgium
    J De Keyser
    Dpt of Neurology UZ Brussel, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Brussels, Belgium/Dpt of Neurology Uni. Med. Center Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands


    Background: Sunlight and vitamin D have been inversely associated with the risk of multiple sclerosis (MS).

    Objective: We investigated sunlight exposure and sun sensitivity in relation to disability progression in MS.

    Methods: We conducted a survey among persons with MS, registered by the Flemish MS society, Belgium, and stratified data according to relapsing-onset and progressive-onset MS. We used Kaplan–Meier survival and Cox proportional hazard regression analyses with time to Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) 6 as outcome measure. Hazard ratios for the time from onset and from birth were calculated for the potentially predictive variables, adjusting for age at onset, gender and immunomodulatory treatment.

    Results: 704 (51.3%) of the 1372 respondents had reached EDSS 6. In relapsing-onset MS, respondents reporting equal or higher levels of sun exposure than persons of the same age in the last 10 years had a decreased risk of reaching EDSS 6. In progressive-onset MS, increased sun sensitivity was associated with an increased hazard of reaching EDSS 6.

    Conclusion: The association of higher sun exposure with a better outcome in relapsing-onset MS may be explained by either a protective effect or reverse causality. Mechanisms underlying sun sensitivity might influence progression in progressive-onset MS.
    Dave Bexfield

  • #2
    Did they correct for activity level?

    This study is interesting. It makes me wonder what do those with more sun exposure have in common. The study adjusted for age at onset, gender and immunomodulatory treatment, but did they look at exercise level? Since we started cycling, I have a lot more sun exposure. Is the effect they saw really due to the sun, activity or a combination of both? This is just more reason to get out there and do something.