Spending time in sunshine may decrease risk of inflammatory bowel disease

Washington: It turns out, spending an hour a day outside in the sun reduces children’s risk of inflammatory bowel disease.

More than 800,000 people live with the two life-long disorders which make up IBD — Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis.

“Taking children to play outside in the sun could be life-changing. It doesn’t have to be all at the same time. But, we found children who were outside and exposed to the sun for an extra half hour a day in total, had a lower risk of developing IBD by almost 20 per cent, said lead researcher of the study Robyn Lucas, from the ANU College of Health and Medicine.

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The team of researchers found even short periods of sun exposure were associated with a lower risk of children developing IBD.

The findings were published in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition.

They found every 10 minutes of sun exposure was associated with a lower risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease by six per cent. At this stage what the researchers have shown is that there is a link between lack of sun exposure and increased risk of IBD.

“We already know that sunshine affects the immune system in ways that could decrease IBD — but we don’t know the exact pathways. But our research suggests that getting outside and into the sunshine is a good thing when it comes to preventing this terrible disease,” the researchers pointed out.

IBD is becoming more common and children are getting it at younger ages. The symptoms can be awful. If you have IBD you get intermittent diarrhea, abdominal pain, inflammation and you can feel very unwell, Lucas explained.

Everyone needs a bit of sun exposure every day or at least most days of the week. But we are not talking about sun baking or getting sunburnt, researchers suggested.


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