Here comes the sun: Defending our summer rays

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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?
 
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Moof

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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. :)
 
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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.
 

Moof

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If there was a way to get UV and stay cold to combat the vasodilation, that might be the trick!
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.

In case you were not aware sunlight can trigger mast cells
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.
 

JaimeS

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@JaimeS relevant to your thoughts on the time of year we feel sickest?
Yes, and sorry I didn't see this earlier.

I've continued to monitor my blood every two weeks since then, and I've started going to a darned tanning bed -- seriously.

Bump in WBC count after I do, and an increase in well-being/decrease in malaise.

More when I have a "complete report" at the end of this month!

BTW I feel like I read Byrne when I was doing my initial research. UV therapy for Type I diabetes rings a few bells.
 

JaimeS

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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. :)
Distinctly possible! I feel really bad in the wintertime (late Nov to late Jan, basically), but I also hate the hottest months. So in my case it's "also/and". :(
 
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Yes, and sorry I didn't see this earlier.

I've continued to monitor my blood every two weeks since then, and I've started going to a darned tanning bed -- seriously.

Bump in WBC count after I do, and an increase in well-being/decrease in malaise.

More when I have a "complete report" at the end of this month!

BTW I feel like I read Byrne when I was doing my initial research. UV therapy for Type I diabetes rings a few bells.
Does the tanning bed feel hot? I'm not sure if I'd enjoy the temperature effect. One thing I have considered is one of those "SAD lamps" which increase UV to combat seasonal affective disorder.

edit: also, how would you reconcile your higher wbc count and the claims that UV delivers immune suppression? seems paradoxical!
 

JaimeS

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The thing is, when I use the tanning bed I don't close it. I'm not actually trying to 'get tan', I'm trying to expose myself to UVB, so I just lie there with it open: then it doesn't get too hot. I also do the bare minimum on a Level 1 or Level 2 (where one is the lowest level) bed, which is about 8 min.

I also completely cover my head and neck. I do get a little kick-up of inflammation concurrent with the practice, so whether or not it helps a pwME is likely a very individual thing based on how 'bad' their inflammation already is.

"Immune suppression" ... we've got to consider that there is more than one way to affect immune function. For example, my IgE is high, which means my immune system is hyperactive.

But then my IgA is low, which means my immune system is suppressed.

So which is it?

The answer isn't so simple. You can have high levels of one type of WBC, like monocytes, and the others might be lower; you can have high levels of some cytokines and low levels of others. Perhaps the UVB boosts immune function in a way where I have lower or impaired function.

Finally -- a second area of potential confusion.

I think we are very wrong about 'autoimmune' illness, and suppressing the immune system in a generalized manner is maybe not such a good road to go down. And I think the author is wrong that sunlight actually suppresses immune function in a generalized manner; I'd say it's the other way around.
 

sb4

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@JamieS I spent a long time going down the light path and it is definitely legit. Are you doing Infra Red light as well? It would be good if you could select a tanning bed with both as I think they work synegistically and besides IR has benefits of its own.

I wouldn't be so sure about the SAD lamp. Most of these lamps are high color temperature, usually the same as mid day and they contain no IR light. As far as I understand it, blue light needs to be balanced with IR. I think this is something to do with blue light inhibiting cytochrome activity and red light enhancing it.

Also, if you use SAD light in morning you could b e screwing up your circadian rhythm by telling your body you've woken up at midday. The morning is where we produce a bunch of hormones and I think obeying circadian rhythm is important in this respect.

You could search for reptile lights. They approximiate the sun. I would only switch them on an hour or so after sun rise and make sure to get natural light in your eye soon after getting up. This is what I do.
 

JaimeS

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I was looking at infrared, but not really sure about it yet. More research needed.

The full-spectrum light *helps* with my circadian rhythm. I was waking up at the exact crack of dawn, seemingly to grab as much light as humanly possible. (This is NOT my natural wake-up time, btw, which is between 7:45 and 8:15am.) Now I wake up around the normal time again. :)
 

debored13

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Here's another story very much on the same topic, in outside magazine

https://www.outsideonline.com/2380751/sunscreen-sun-exposure-skin-cancer-science?src=longreads

I usually feel much worse in winter. I've always thought it must be because of mold. This year I intend to do everything I can to make sure I get lots of sunlight throughout all of autumn!
Well I may be dealing with both haha —New England moldy house and darkness. Have been looking into reptile uvb lamps since I cant get outside. Have you considered?
 

debored13

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I was looking at infrared, but not really sure about it yet. More research needed.

The full-spectrum light *helps* with my circadian rhythm. I was waking up at the exact crack of dawn, seemingly to grab as much light as humanly possible. (This is NOT my natural wake-up time, btw, which is between 7:45 and 8:15am.) Now I wake up around the normal time again. :)
As far as infrared ive read that it can be helpful but that near infrared red light has a wider efficacy/safety profile. WEll, not that infrared is dangerous but more that there might be a possibility of overdoing it and feeling worse
 
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Well I may be dealing with both haha —New England moldy house and darkness. Have been looking into reptile uvb lamps since I cant get outside. Have you considered?
have definitely considered. My main plan this year is to get maximum sunshine throughout the autumn months to hopefully tide me through. Going to harvest sunshine like a scarce commodity!