Sunlight May Lower Stroke Risk

Stroke risk may increase with limited sunlight

February 4, 2012 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

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(dailyRx News) If you live in a sunny locale such as Florida, your risk of stroke may be lower than in areas with frequent dreary days such as Washington state.

Individuals who live in areas with the least amount of sunlight throughout the year tend to have the highest risk of stroke.

"Call 9-1-1 immediately if you suspect a stroke."

Shia T Kent, a lead researcher from the department of epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, found that even after adjusting for other risk factors, those who lived in locations where sunlight was below the median were at 1.6 times higher risk of stroke. Extreme temperatures also appeared to increase the risk.

During the study, investigators collected data from 16,606 participants over the age of 45 who were stroke-free in the REGARDS (Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke) Study. The participants were interviewed by phone, through in-home evaluations and through questionnaires about their medical history and their residential histories since birth.

They also examined a 15-year residential history with satellite and ground monitor data to determine sunlight and temperature exposure.

Over an average period of five years of follow up, 351 participants had a stroke, marking this research the first to suggest a link between sunlight and stroke. Extreme temperatures -- both those that were very hot or extremely cold -- also appeared to increase the risk.

Researchers next hope to determine whether it is short- or long-term exposure that causes the increased risk, and to conduct additional studies to confirm the findings.

This study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Neurologic Disorders and Stroke, was presented Wednesday at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2012 in New Orleans.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 2, 2012
Last Updated:
February 4, 2012