#ACTRIMS2017 – Sun Exposure May Lower Fatigue, Slow Disability Progression in MS

#ACTRIMS2017 – Sun Exposure May Lower Fatigue, Slow Disability Progression in MS

Spending more time in the sunshine could make people with multiple sclerosis (MS) feel more energetic, though dietary vitamin D intake’s effect is mixed, depending on what type of MS a particular patient has.

That’s the conclusion of a study — “Dietary intakes of vitamin D, sunshine exposure, EDSS and fatigue scale in Multiple Sclerosis: Are there any correlations?” — presented Feb. 23 at the Poster Session 1 and Opening Networking Event of the ongoing ACTRIMS 2017 Forum in Orlando, Florida.

The Iranian study found that longer exposure to the sun is linked to lower levels of fatigue and lower disability in both relapsing and primary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. Researchers also linked the consumption of vitamin D in foods and beverages to lower disability levels, though vitamin D levels appeared to have no impact on fatigue and disability among patients with secondary progressive MS.

The study, by the Kashani Hospital of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, suggests that more research is needed to examine the effects of sun exposure on these parameters across different subtypes of MS. It included 126 patients, of which 84 had relapsing MS and 21 each had primary or secondary progressive disease.

To assess vitamin D intake, researchers administered a 168-item semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire, in which particular focus was placed on calcium and vitamin D intake.

Another questionnaire asked patients about how much time they spent in the sun. The impact of other habits that could be linked to exposure was also covered in the questionnaire, which examined the three months before the study began.

Researchers also measured disability levels and fatigue using the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) and a fatigue questionnaire.

As expected, patients with progressive disease scored higher on disability and fatigue assessments than relapsing MS patients. Vitamin D intake did not differ between the groups.

Higher vitamin D intake and sun exposure were found to be linked to lower disability scores among relapsing MS patients, with a stronger correlation between disability and sun exposure, than vitamin intake. Sun exposure also reduced fatigue.

Among primary progressive MS patients, sun exposure was also linked to lower levels of disability and fatigue. The research team could not detect any other correlations between the measurements.

“Our study demonstrated that there were a negative significant correlation between sun exposure with EDSS and fatigue scale in RRMS and PPMS,” researchers concluded. “This is the first report of correlation between vitamin D with EDSS and fatigue scale in three types of MS and further studies with larger sample sizes need to prove these results.”


  1. Marc says:

    Great article, Magdalena! This is not the first research to show that sun exposure has an inverse correlation to MS, which seems to have nothing to do with the vitamin D levels of the individual being assessed. The same relationship exists when latitudes are compared to rates of MS; the further from the equator, where there is less sun, the greater the incidence of MS. There is more than 100 times the risk of MS in far northern areas as in equatorial areas, where sun is intense, and where the rate of MS approaches zero. Sun exposure is vital to human health. Here are some additional facts about sun exposure and its benefits for health:
    •A 20-year Swedish study shows that sun avoidance is as bad for the health as cigarette smoking.
    •A Spanish study shows that women who seek the sun have one-eleventh the hip fracture risk as those who avoid sun.
    •Men who work outdoors have half the risk of melanoma as those who work indoors.
    •Women who totally avoid the sun have 10-times the risk of breast cancer as those who embrace the sun.
    •Women who sunbathe regularly have half the risk of death during a 20-year period compared to those who stay indoors.
    •Sun exposure increases nitric oxide production, which leads to a decrease in heart attack risk.
    •Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, is essential to human survival, and sun exposure is the only natural way to obtain it. Sunbathing can produce 20,000 units of vitamin D in 20 minutes of whole-body exposure.
    •Sun exposure dramatically improves mood through the production of serotonin and endorphin.
    •Beyond vitamin D, sun exposure also stimulates the production of endorphin, nitric oxide and BDNF, all of which are vital to human health.
    •Regular sun exposure also reduces high blood pressure, heart disease, psoriasis and multiple sclerosis (MS).
    •As sunscreen use has increased dramatically, melanoma has INCREASED exponentially.
    For the scientific references and articles for the above statements, visit http://sunlightinstitute.org/

  2. Modena Barton says:

    For years I have been telling people that I feel better when I am either in the sun or the tanning bed. They just look at me like I’m crazy and I did have the skin cancer this last week but luckily they removed it. I keep telling people it hurts down in my bones and I have to do that it seems to relieve me. So I want everyone to leave me alone with their comments and I will continue to be in the sun for the rest of my life.

  3. I have a question on this matter, i get very fatigued when in the sun due to the temperature and heat that my exposed head gets. How can i correct this problem? I have regressive MS. Its getting bad though.

    • Joerg Richter says:

      I do have the same problem. When the sun is out and the temperature rises i get very fatigued 🙁 My MS gets even worse by high temperatures.

  4. Peter says:

    A long time ago I have noticed at myself, that sunbathing leads to improvements of my MS condition. I realized that independently of any articles on the internet.
    But heat is a big problem also for me. I solve it sunbathing during colder months, and in the summer I spend two weeks at the sea. For me is ideal warm Turkish sea, where I can spend almost whole day in the water. Water prevents me to overheat my body from the sunheat.

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