For the last few decades we have talked about little else other than why you should stay away from sunlight. We've recognized just how real a risk skin cancer can be and are doing every little thing we can think of to prevent it from happening. We don countless layers of the highest SPF sunscreens that we can buy. We put on large floppy caps. We wear long sleeves and pant legs even in the warmest of temps. We do our best to stay only in the shady areas--some have even started carrying parasols and umbrellas all over so that their skin never comes into contact with direct sunlight. Now we're starting to see that sunlight can sometimes be quite helpful. Can you really be helped by the sunshine?
A new study has been done and it shows that people who allow some time in direct natural light aren't as likely to get MS as the people who do everything they can to keep out of the sun. At the beginning, the study was much more about Vitamin D and it's effects on Multiple Sclerosis. It quickly became clear, though, that the Vitamin D made in our bodies as a reaction to sunshine is what is really at the root of things.
We've known for a very long time that the sun's rays and Vitamin D can hinder the way the immune system plays a part in MS. This distinct study, though, is concentrated on how sunlight affects the people who are starting to experience the very earliest of MS symptoms. The real objective is to discover how sunlight and Vitamin D may affect the symptoms that are now known as "precursors" to the actual disease symptoms.
Sadly, at this time there aren't really very many ways that really prove whether or not the hypothesis of this study are true. This study is attempting to demonstrate whether or not sunlight can truly help a person prevent Multiple Sclerosis. Sadly, the only real way to quantify if this is correct is to monitor a person over his or her entire life. This is only way that it may be possible to measure and understand the levels of Vitamin D that exist in a person's blood before the precursors of the disease show up. The way it stands today, and has stood (widely recognized) for decades is that people who live in warm and sunny climates and who get more exposure to direct sunshine are less likely to develop MS than those who live in dark or cold climates and get very little exposure to the sun.
The fact that the danger of developing skin cancer rises proportionally to the amount of time you spend in direct sunlight (without protection) is also a problem. So, in an attempt to stave off one condition, you could be causing yourself to produce a different one. Of course, if you ever get skin cancer early on enough you are far more likely to cure it. MS even now has no cure.
So what should you do: risk skin cancer or chance MS? Talk to your doctor to figure out if this is an excellent idea. Your physician will figure out if you are at risk for the disease (and how much) by checking out your genetics, medical history and current health. This helps a family doctor determine what the best thing for you to do is.