Inside-Lifestyle Teens May Be at Risk for Earlier Multiple Sclerosis

February 4, 2016 in Our News & Bulletins by Integrity Rehab

A new study out of the Danish Multiple Sclerosis Center finds that daily sun exposure during teen years may have a protective effect against earlier multiple sclerosis (MS) onset. Additionally, being overweight as a young adult also showed a correlation with earlier MS onset. A study of correlations like this is always ripe for different interpretations, but it’s safe to say this: The results of this study serve as one more good reason for parents to give teens ample opportunity for outdoor activity on a daily basis.

At this point, the researchers can only theorize as to why daily sun exposure may have a protective effect against MS. Vitamin D levels may contribute to the MS protection. Other research has identified low vitamin D levels as a contributor to MS risk. UV-B irradiation from the sun serves as the main source of human vitamin D. However, the multi-variable analysis in this study suggests that vitamin D may not fully explain the effect. It is likely that other positive effects from the sun’s ultraviolet rays contribute to the effect observed by the Danish scientists. The researchers also found no effect from vitamin D supplementation (positive or negative), but supplements are not known to make large contributions to the levels of vitamin D people need.

Lead researcher Dr. Laursen also hypothesizes that the correlation between obesity and earlier MS onset may stem from obesity causing increased leptin – which is proinflammatory. Being overweight at age 20 correlates with a 3.1 year earlier MS onset compared to being underweight (among a group of people with multiple sclerosis).

The people of western countries know that sun exposure is believed to be associated with skin cancer and melanoma. Concern about this risk factor and the wider appeal of indoor activities for teens has likely decreased sun exposure for modern teens compared to generations past. However, we must balance these concerns with our growing knowledge of the benefits of being active outdoors. Lead researcher Dr. Laursen points out that 30 minutes of summer sun in Denmark corresponds to a vitamin D intake that is 25 times greater than the nationally recommended daily intake.

Teens Multiple Sclerosis