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BMJ. 2003 Aug 9;327(7410):316.

Past exposure to sun, skin phenotype, and risk of multiple sclerosis: case-control study.

Author information

  • 1Menzies Centre for Population Health Research, University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS 7000, Australia. Ingrid.vanderMei@utas.edu.au

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To examine whether past high sun exposure is associated with a reduced risk of multiple sclerosis.

DESIGN:

Population based case-control study.

SETTING:

Tasmania, latitudes 41-3 degrees S.

PARTICIPANTS:

136 cases with multiple sclerosis and 272 controls randomly drawn from the community and matched on sex and year of birth.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE:

Multiple sclerosis defined by both clinical and magnetic resonance imaging criteria.

RESULTS:

Higher sun exposure when aged 6-15 years (average 2-3 hours or more a day in summer during weekends and holidays) was associated with a decreased risk of multiple sclerosis (adjusted odds ratio 0.31, 95% confidence interval 0.16 to 0.59). Higher exposure in winter seemed more important than higher exposure in summer. Greater actinic damage was also independently associated with a decreased risk of multiple sclerosis (0.32, 0.11 to 0.88 for grades 4-6 disease). A dose-response relation was observed between multiple sclerosis and decreasing sun exposure when aged 6-15 years and with actinic damage.

CONCLUSION:

Higher sun exposure during childhood and early adolescence is associated with a reduced risk of multiple sclerosis. Insufficient ultraviolet radiation may therefore influence the development of multiple sclerosis.

PMID:
12907484
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC169645
Free PMC Article

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