-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Jan. 12 (HealthDay News) -- People who live in sunnier
regions of the United States are less likely to develop
inflammatory bowel disease, a new study says.
The findings support previous European research and could lead
to new types of treatment and preventive measures, the study
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) includes Crohn's disease and
ulcerative colitis, which can be extremely painful and require
surgery. The causes of IBD remain largely unknown.
In this study, researchers analyzed long-term data collected
from 238,000 participants in the Nurses' Health Study I and the
Nurses' Health Study II, which were launched in 1976 and 1989,
respectively. None of the participants had inflammatory bowel
disease at the start of the studies.
Compared to participants who lived in northern areas of the
United States, those living in southern areas were 52 percent less
likely to develop Crohn's disease by the age of 30 and 38 percent
less likely to develop ulcerative colitis.
The study appears online in the journal
"A leading explanation for this north-south gradient in the risk of ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease may be differences in exposure to sunlight, or UVB radiation, which is generally greater in southern latitudes," wrote Dr. Hamed Khalili, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues.
"UV radiation is the greatest environmental determinant of plasma vitamin D, and there is substantial experimental data supporting a role for vitamin D in the innate immunity and regulation of inflammatory response," they noted.
The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America has more about
inflammatory bowel disease.
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