Objective: The prevalence of multiple sclerosis (MS) varies with latitude: it increases with distance from the equator in both hemispheres. To seek evidence on whether solar radiation is a protective factor for MS, this study investigated whether skin cancer, as an indicator of solar radiation, is less common in people with MS than in others.
Design: Analysis of a database of linked hospital records and death certificates.
Setting: The Oxford Region of the National Health Service, England.
Subjects: A cohort comprising all people in the database with MS, and comparison cohorts of people with other diseases.
Results: Skin cancer was significantly less common in people with MS than in the main comparison cohort (rate ratio 0.49; 95% confidence interval 0.24 to 0.91). There was no general deficit of cancer in the MS cohort, and no deficit of skin cancer in cohorts of people with other autoimmune or neurological diseases.
Conclusion: The findings support the hypothesis that solar radiation may have a protective influence on the development of MS.
- multiple sclerosis
- skin cancer
- record linkage
- sun exposure
- MS, multiple sclerosis
- ORLS, Oxford record linkage study
Statistics from Altmetric.com
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.
↵* Since acceptance of this paper, another study giving similar findings on the same hypothesis has been published.
Funding: The Unit of Health-Care Epidemiology is currently funded for analyses of the Oxford Record Linkage Study by the Research and Development Directorate of the Department of Health and Social Care (South).
Conflicts of interest: none declared.