According to a recent study at the University of Southern California, increased UV exposure lowers the risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS) by enhancing your cell’s immune responses and increasing levels of vitamin D. Those of you who have read this blog in the past may know that I’m an opponent of the scare tactics often used by those who blow the risk of skin cancer way out of proportion (perhaps to sell more sunscreen), warning people not to go outside without the SPF-15. The truth is that most people today need more sun exposure, not less.
The key factor here seems to be vitamin D, as if often the case. An earlier study had found that women who took vitamin D supplements were 40% less likely to develop MS. Multiple sclerosis is among the most common neurological diseases today, affecting around two million people worldwide. MS can have many symptoms, including visual problems, muscle weakness, depression, and impaired mobility. In the study, researchers looked at 79 pairs of identical twins with the same genetic risk of developing MS. It was found that those twins which spent more hours outdoors were up to 57% less likely to develop MS.
MS is but one of the serious medical conditions that can potentially result from a lack of sun exposure. Most of these conditions are far more serious (sometimes deadly) and far more common than skin cancer which can result from over-exposure to UV rays. To be sure, there is such as thing as too much sun, and you shouldn’t be outside burning your skin to a crisp every day. However, the fact remains that most of us are at a much greater risk of getting too little sun. So get outside! And unless you’re going to be soaking up UV rays for several hours, just leave the sunscreen at home.