Health & Medicine - Posted by Courtney Karayannis-Monash on Monday, May 7, 2012 16:00 - 3 Comments
Low vitamin D worsens lupus severity
MONASH (AUS) — People with lupus experience more severe symptoms if their vitamin D levels are low, a new study shows.
The new research also finds that, due to environmental, genetic, and cultural factors which contribute to vitamin D deficiency, Australians are more susceptible to the disease.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) affects more than five million people worldwide. Symptoms may include bouts of extreme tiredness, hair loss, skin rashes, and sun-intolerance.
Because sunlight can make aspects of the disease worse, practicing sun avoidance is important for patients, but this can lead to vitamin D deficiency and an increase in the severity of the disease, says Eric Morand, head of the Monash Lupus Clinic and Monash University’s Southern Clinical School at Southern Health.
“In multicultural Australia, instances of vitamin D deficiency can be seen in cultural groups where clothing covers the body, in people with dark skin tone who have lower absorption, and those who practice sun avoidance,” Morand says.
“Although it’s too soon to draw conclusions about the long-term safety and effectiveness of vitamin D supplements in lupus, a clinical trial is the next step proving that supplementing vitamin D makes lupus better.”
For Morand, the battle to find new treatments carries added significance. His sister Maxine Morand, CEO of Breast Cancer Network Australia, was diagnosed with lupus more than 20 years ago, coincidentally around the same time he started researching the disease. Ms. Morand says she was just 26 when she discovered she had the autoimmune disease, meaning the body’s immune system attacks itself.
“As a patient with vitamin D deficiency, I’m fascinated by these findings,” she says. “If it can be proved that vitamin D supplementation improves outcomes for the patient and reduces symptoms, then it could significantly improve their quality of life.”
The findings will be presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australian Rheumatology Association in Canberra, coinciding with the observance of World Lupus Day on May 10.
The research involved five years of clinical data and blood sample collection from the Monash Lupus Clinic at Southern Health, the only lupus-dedicated clinic in Australia.
Partners of this research include Southern Health and Arthritis Victoria.
More news from Monash University: http://www.monash.edu.au/