Get Sunshine and Avoid Rheumatoid Arthritis?

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A new study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives reported more rheumatoid arthritis in women in northern latitudes such as Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine and concluded that this may be a result of less sunshine in these areas which leads to a vitamin D deficiency. The researchers looked at data from the Nurses Health Study and collected residential addresses, health outcomes, and behavioral risk factors for subjects between 1988 and 2002. In the sample 461 women had rheumatoid arthritis compared to 9,220 who did not. In addition to finding more RA in the northern latitudes there was more in those who had lived there longer suggesting that long term exposure to less sunshine may be more important than recent exposure.
Although further research on the relationship of vitamin D deficiency and rheumatoid arthritis is needed, the researchers said the geographic association has also been observed for other autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, and Crohn’s disease.

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