February 9, 2012

Less Sunlight Can Increase Risk of Stroke

It has long been known that exposure to sunlight is sufficient to nourish the body. New research shows that the amount of sun exposure may play a role in determining the risk of stroke. "We heard a lot about how the sun may be bad for the body, for example in terms of skin cancer. But in sun exposure studies indicate that there may be some positive outcomes associated with exposure to sunlight," says Leslie McClure, a professor of biostatistics at the University of Alabama , Birmingham. 

Prof. McClure and his colleagues will present their findings on February 6, 2012 meeting of the American Stroke Association in New Orleans. To explore the possible connection between the sun and stroke, researchers analyzed data collected from an ongoing study involving more than 30,000 black men and white women over the age of 45 years.

The research team focused on the approximately 16 500 participants, which none had a history of stroke or heart disease when they were enrolled in this study. The study took place between the years 2003-2007. All study participants underwent a physical examination. In addition, all study participants completed questionnaires about their medical history and where they had lived in the past. During follow-up for 5 years, some 351 of 16 500 had a stroke. 

The results showed that those who have a range of low sun exposure risk 1.6 times more likely to suffer a stroke than those getting more sun exposure.The research team also found evidence that those who live in areas with cold climates also showed a higher risk for stroke.

"We still do not know what causes sun exposure associated with risk of stroke. There are many hypotheses, but we really do not understand the mechanism," said Prof. McClure.
Areas with exposure to sunlight may also have low vitamin D levels. Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with higher risk for stroke. Other studies also revealed that people who consume more vitamin D had 11 percent lower risk of stroke.



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