Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Getting some extra sunshine everyday could prevent the development of multiple sclerosis

HealthDay News – Could getting some extra sunshine help prevent the development of multiple sclerosis ?

Maybe, according to new research that found white people with high circulating levels of vitamin D -- a vitamin mainly produced by the body after sun exposure -- had a lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS). No such association was found for blacks or Hispanics in this study, which is published in the Dec. 20 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"The group [of whites] with the highest vitamin D levels had a 62 percent decreased risk compared to the group with the lowest levels," said the study's lead author, Dr. Alberto Ascherio, an associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

However, Ascherio cautioned that it was too soon to recommend that anyone -- even those at high risk of developing MS -- start taking vitamin D supplements or increasing their sun exposure with the hope of preventing MS.

Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system. It's believed to be an autoimmune disease that causes the body's immune system to attack the substance -- myelin -- that covers nerve cells. About 400,000 Americans have MS, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Symptoms of the disorder include poor coordination, loss of balance, blurred vision, fatigue, cognitive problems, numbness and possible paralysis.

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