Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Sunshine can be our friend

Multiple sclerosis, a disease that affects the central nervous system, has been puzzling researchers for a while, especially because it seems to occur more in northern countries than more southerly ones. In fact, according to the MS Society of Canada has the highest rates of MS in the world. Newest research published in the July 24 issue of Neurology is backing up theories that sunlight plays a role in the development – or prevention of MS. Interestingly, Caucasians have a higher rate of MS than do people of colour or Natives.

MS strikes people in the prime of their lives, particularly women in their 20s and 30s. Although it can affect people who are younger and older, the fact that it hits primarily in the late 20s and 30s and that it happens 50% more often in women, means many young mothers fall into this category.

Symptoms of MS include muscle weakness and/or spasms, problems with balance and coordination, fatigue, among others. Usually, the signs come on slowly so most people brush them off, thinking that they are just tired or under the weather.

MS can be slow to progress, with many remissions or periods where there are no symptoms or increase in symptoms, or it can progress quickly.

What caught my eye about the press release about sunshine and MS is the news that came out recently about the rising rate of rickets among children. When my children were born, I was against them getting a “good tan,” but I also felt that they needed to get out in the sun for some healthy doses of sunshine. After all, humans have been living with the sun for thousands of years – it can’t be all bad. I believe that we, as a society, tend to over-react to certain types of medical and health findings. We hear that something may be bad for us, so we eliminate it completely or we hear that it’s good for us, so we embrace it whole-heartedly. There has to be a happy medium. Of course, I’m not advocating an occasional snack of hemlock or digoxin, but we really have to be more reasonable in our approach of how we take care of ourselves and how we approach life. At least, that’s what I’m trying to teach my children.

News for today:
Childhood sun exposure may lower risk of MS
Antioxidants may protect against knee arthritis
Group Therapy Doesn't Extend Life in Breast Cancer
Sperm banking before treatment preserves fertility in young male cancer patients
Poor health literacy associated with increased mortality in the elderly

1 comment:

Dawn said...

Sunshine is good; moderation is the key.

Read an interesting study ages ago about how our eyes need sunshine each day to balance our moods. Even wearing glasses could shield the eye from the beneficial effect of the rays. I think they suggested about twenty minutes a day outside.