(NaturalNews) Frequent exposure to sunshine has been linked to the prevention of several serious diseases, from Type II diabetes to between 15-20 types of cancer. According to a new study published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases journal, however, we have yet another reason to love the sun: Older women who enjoy frequent exposure to sunlight throughout their lives are less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune condition that affects joints. The researchers, who are members of the Department of Epidermiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, monitored the health of two groups of female nurses. The first group, comprised of over 120,000 women between the ages of 30 to 55, was monitored from 1976 to 2008. The second group, comprised of 115,500 women between the ages of 25 and 32, was monitored from 1989 to 2009.
They found that the older women in the first group with the highest estimated levels of ultraviolet radiation exposure (as determined by factors such as the climate of the state in which they lived) were 21 percent less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than the women with the lowest estimated levels.
However, the younger women in the second group demonstrated no correlation between estimated ultraviolet radiation exposure and a decreased risk of rheumatoid arthritis. The study authors believe that this is because younger women are taught from a young age to guard themselves from the sun using sunscreen, or avoid it altogether.
“Our study adds to the growing evidence that exposure to UV-B light is associated with decreased risk of rheumatoid arthritis,” said Dr. Elizabeth Arkema, co-author of the study. “The mechanisms are not yet understood, but could be mediated by the cutaneous production of vitamin D and attenuated by use of sunscreen or sun avoidant behavior.”