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Ultraviolet radiation, vitamin D protect against multiple sclerosis

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By David Liu, PHD

Sunday Nov 18, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- Frequent exposure to ultraviolet radiation or maintaining sufficient levels of serum vitamin D or 25-hydroxyvitamin D may help prevent multiple sclerosis, according to a new study recently published in European Journal of Epidemiology.

Maria Bäärnhielm of Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden and colleagues conducted the case-control study and confirmed early findings that insufficient exposure to ultraviolet radiation or vitamin D deficiency was associated with elevated risk of multiple sclerosis (MS).

For the study, researchers analysed data on ultraviolet radiation exposure habits, vitamin D and human leukocyte antigen genotypes in 1013 incident cases of multiple sclerosis and 1194 controls who were enrolled in a population-based case-control study conducted in Sweden from 2005 through 2010.
Those with low ultraviolet radiation exposure were at a 120 percent increased risk of multiple sclerosis, compared with those with the highest exposure.  Similarly, subjects with 25-hydroxy-vitamin d levels lower than 50 nM/L were at 40 percent increased risk for the disease, compared with those who had the high levels of vitamin D.

The association between ultraviolet radiation exposure and risk of multiple sclerosis persisted after adjustment for vitamin D status and was not affected by the human leukocyte antigen genotypes.

The researchers concluded " UVR (ultraviolet radiation) and vitamin D seem to affect MS risk in adults independently of HLA-DRB1*15 status. UVR exposure may also exert a protective effect against developing MS via other pathways than those involving vitamin D."

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