It seems like common sense to assume that people will feel better and healthier during the summer and will have less energy during the winter. During cold months, your joints hurt, you tire faster and if you suffer from a cardiovascular disease, you experience angina more often.
All these symptoms sound like a given during the winter, but what if there`s more to it than it meets the eye?
Scientists of University of Cambridge might have an answer for why your body seems to be acting up during the winter.
According to their research, it seems that our genes are programmed to function differently according to seasonal changes. That means that some genes will have an increased activity during warm months and other genes will be expressed more during cold months.
After studying the effect that sun exposure has for people in northern lands, scientists concluded that all those joint, heart and diabetes problems people experience during the winter might be caused by a decresed function of the ARNTL gene.
The ARNTL gene is able to suppress inflammation which is the way the body responds to infections, so it would make sense to function less during the winter when cold viruses and bacteria are more common.
But many people who suffer from autoimmune diseases already have problems with too much inflammation cells that their body produces, so when one of the means that kept inflammation under control gets shut down, symptoms start to appear.
Type 1 Diabetes is also an autoimmune disease and the findings correlate perfectly to the larger amount of patients who are diagnosed with this disease during winter months.
Rheumatoid arthritis is another common autoimmune disease that starts acting up during winter and forces patients to up their pain medication.
Psychiatrists also report that, during winter, mental illnesses that have an inflammatory component are much harder to manage.
Patients suffering from cardiovascular disease also suffer because of the cold which causes vessel constriction. Therefore during winter months more heart attacks and angina episodes are reported.
Another well known bodily function that depends strictly on UV radiation is Vitamin D synthesis. Vitamin D plays a major factor in the well being of our organisms. If deficiency occurs over an extended period of time, some of the symptoms that one might face are cognitive impairment, increased risk for cardiovascular disease, severe asthma in children and possibly cancer.
Thanks to these findings, you might think it is just safer to move to a place where the sun shines brightly all year round, but since not all patients can do that, new therapeutic strategies may be in order so as to manage better the complications that cold weather brings for people with chronic diseases.
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