International ME/CFS and FM Awareness Day Is On May 12, 2018
Thomas Hennessy, Jr., selected May 12th to be our international awareness day back in 1992. He knew that May 12th had also been the birthday of Florence Nightingale. She was the English army nurse who helped to found the Red Cross as well as the first school of nursing in the world.
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Here comes the sun: Defending our summer rays

Discussion in 'Other Health News and Research' started by Murph, Nov 26, 2018.

  1. Murph

    Murph :)

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    https://www.theage.com.au/lifestyle...efending-our-summer-rays-20181120-p50h2j.html
    Here comes the sun: Defending our summer rays

    In 2004, Dr Michael Goldacre from Oxford University thought that a neat way to study the link between MS and sunshine would be to look for correlations between skin cancer and MS. He found that skin cancer was indeed 50 per cent less common in people with MS. This result didn't prove anything, but it raised the intriguing question: is the sun protective against MS? Associate Professor Ingrid van der Mei from the University of Tasmania's Menzies Institute for Medical Research had begun working on this question in the 1990s. "Back in the 1960s, we actually knew that there was a bit of a latitude gradient for MS, but at the time we had no idea that ultraviolet light could actually influence your immune system," she says.

    "They stopped the research for maybe 30 years, then, in the 1990s, there was this whole area of photoimmunology where we did realise the immune effects that sunlight might have."

    Australia was a perfect place to look, because it had a lot of people with the same fair skin tones living between, say, Cairns in the tropics and Hobart, where she was. And when she started correlating the numbers, they stacked up. Tasmania had six times the rate of MS as north Queensland. But she found an even stronger correlation when she calculated the number of sunny days in her key locations.

    Temperature and rainfall didn't seem to have an influence. That led to a more detailed study of the sun-exposure histories of MS patients compared to those who didn't have the disease. She found that more sun exposure in childhood seemed to reduce the risk of developing MS. She also found that the link between a lack of sunshine and MS was stronger than the positive link between too much sun and melanoma. "I'm not sure why that is," she says. "It just shows that the link between MS and [lack of] sunshine is really strong."

    ...

    Back in the 1990s, Scott Byrne, now an associate professor at Sydney's Westmead Institute for Medical Research, was doing his PhD on the ways in which sunlight caused skin cancer. It appeared to turn off the immune system, thus allowing non-melanoma skin cancers to proliferate. "That's why sunlight is such a powerful carcinogen," he says. "It has the capacity to both damage the DNA which is required for the development of cancers, and it suppresses the very immune response that helps us fight those cancers." Through his PhD and postdoctoral research in the US, the young Australian discovered that one of the culprits of this immune suppression, "regulatory B cells", was activated by UV radiation.

    The wonder drugs of modern melanoma treatment, the immunotherapies, enlist the patient's own immune system to fight the cancer. Some of them do this by turning off these very same regulatory B cells. One of the side effects of immunotherapy, however, can be autoimmune disease, whereby the strengthened immune system gets out of control and starts attacking the patient's own body.

    Byrne became fascinated by this yin-yang aspect of UV radiation, the way it caused cancer and fought autoimmune disease. "The best drugs we have at our disposal for treating multiple sclerosis, for treating type 1 diabetes, for treating rheumatoid arthritis and so on, are drugs which actually suppress the immune system. Here we were with sunlight suppressing the immune system, so I started doing a bit of reading around sunlight and autoimmunity."

    ...

    As a graduate doctor, Weller had spent a year working in Cairns and had noted that Australians seemed healthier than Brits. "You put it down to your athletic lifestyle, your sporting prowess, but it's a bloody lie. You're a bone-idle bunch of bludgers. You smoke, you drink too much. You're just the same as us Brits." It all got him thinking about the role of sunlight in longevity. "So I then went and looked at the data and, lo and behold, all the data is that the more sun you have, the longer you live. There's good data in Scandinavia showing that patients with non-melanoma skin cancer, basal cell skin cancer in particular, have a longer life expectancy than people who've never seen a doctor." He's referring to a study of 30,000 women – but not men – followed for 20 years which found that as sun exposure increased, so did life expectancy – up to 2.1 years – mainly because of lower cardiovascular disease and other non-cancer causes of death. In fact – and don't try this at home – women who smoked and got a lot of sun lived longer than non-smokers who avoided the sun.
    ... More at the link.
    @JaimeS relevant to your thoughts on the time of year we feel sickest?
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2018
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  2. HowToEscape?

    HowToEscape? Senior Member

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    I always thought Australia must be healthy because it's the land that produced Elle McPherson ;-)
     
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  3. Moof

    Moof Senior Member

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    Even short sun exposure hugely increases my symptoms...it's winter here now, which is when I feel best by far! I dread the summer coming, as the increase in temperature is unhelpful even without sun exposure.

    I think it's another one of those 'either/or' things in ME, in the same way that some of us get every cold bug that's doing the rounds whilst others never seem to catch anything. :)
     
  4. Murph

    Murph :)

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    I feel like the sun is a paradox. too much acute expsoure causes nitric oxide release and vasodilation, which is unhelpful in the short term. But it can probably have broader health effects via immune suppression.

    If there was a way to get UV and stay cold to combat the vasodilation, that might be the trick! Certainly doing activties in the sun seems like a bad approach.
     
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  5. wigglethemouse

    wigglethemouse Senior Member

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  6. Moof

    Moof Senior Member

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    Trouble is that it brings me out in a really annoying polymorphic light eruption rash if I don't slather my skin in Factor 50. I've also got a 60 to 90% lifetime chance of developing malignant melanoma, so that's another reason to limit my exposure. I'm a redhead, and my skin's so fair that I get sunburn in the UK in March...which is quite an achievement! :rofl:

    I do love a bit of winter sun, though, as you're right – you get the wellbeing benefits without the huge exacerbation in ME symptoms.

    I have heard this but tend to forget, so thanks for the reminder. It's hard to tell the difference between an ME or MCAS immune flare-up, so it could be either or both that's causing it.
     
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