Surprising: Researchers correlate rheumatoid arthritis and giant cell arteritis with solar cycles

From the DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratorysolarcycle_soho

What began as a chat between husband and wife has evolved into an intriguing scientific discovery. The results, published in May in BMJ (formerly British Medical Journal) Open, show a “highly significant” correlation between periodic solar storms and incidences of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and giant cell arteritis (GCA), two potentially debilitating autoimmune diseases. The findings by a rare collaboration of physicists and medical researchers suggest a relationship between the solar outbursts and the incidence of these diseases that could lead to preventive measures if a causal link can be established.

RA and GCA are autoimmune conditions in which the body mistakenly attacks its own organs and tissues. RA inflames and swells joints and can cause crippling damage if left untreated. In GCA, the autoimmune disease results in inflammation of the wall of arteries, leading to headaches, jaw pain, vision problems and even blindness in severe cases.

Inspiring this study were conversations between Simon Wing, a Johns Hopkins University physicist and first author of the paper, and his wife, Lisa Rider, deputy unit chief of the Environmental Autoimmunity Group at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in the National Institutes of Health, and a coauthor. Rider spotted data from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, showing that cases of RA and GCA followed close to 10-year cycles. “That got me curious,” Wing recalled. “Only a few things in nature have a periodicity of about 10-11 years and the solar cycle is one of them.”

Wing teamed with physicist Jay Johnson of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, a long-time collaborator, to investigate further. When the physicists tracked the incidence of RA and GCA cases compiled by Mayo Clinic researchers, the results suggested “more than a coincidental connection,” said Eric Matteson, chair of the division of rheumatology at the Mayo Clinic, and a coauthor. This work drew upon previous space physics research supported by the DOE Office of Science.

The findings found increased incidents of RA and GCA to be in periodic concert with the cycle of magnetic activity of the sun. During the solar cycle, dramatic changes that can affect space weather near Earth take place in the sun. At the solar maximum, for example, an increased number of outbursts called coronal mass ejections hurl millions of tons of magnetic and electrically charged plasma gas against the Earth’s magnetosphere, the magnetic field that surrounds the planet. This contact whips up geomagnetic disturbances that can disrupt cell phone service, damage satellites and knock out power grids. More importantly, during the declining phase of the solar maximum high-speed streams develop in the solar wind that is made up of plasma that flows from the sun. These streams continuously buffet Earth’s magnetosphere, producing enhanced geomagnetic activity at high Earth latitudes.

The research, which tracked correlations of the diseases with both geomagnetic activity and extreme ultraviolet (EUV) solar radiation, focused on cases recorded in Olmsted County, Minnesota, the home of the Mayo Clinic, over more than five decades. The physicists compared the data with indices of EUV radiation for the years 1950 through 2007 and indices of geomagnetic activity from 1966 through 2007. Included were all 207 cases of GCA and all 1,179 cases of RA occurring in Olmsted County during the periods and collected in a long-term study led by Sherine Gabriel, then of the Mayo Clinic and now dean of the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Correlations proved to be strongest between the diseases and geomagnetic activity. GCA incidence — defined as the number of new cases per capita per year in the county — regularly peaked within one year of the most intense geomagnetic activity, while RA incidence fell to a minimum within one year of the least intense activity. Correlations with the EUV indices were seen to be less robust and showed a significantly longer response time.

The findings were consistent with previous studies of the geographic distribution of RA cases in the United States. Such research found a greater incidence of the disease in sections of the country that are more likely to be affected by geomagnetic activity. For example, the heaviest incidence lay along geographic latitudes on the East Coast that were below those on the West Coast. This asymmetry may reflect the fact that high geomagnetic latitudes — areas most subject to geomagnetic activity — swing lower on the East Coast than on the opposite side of the country. While Washington, D.C., lies just 1 degree farther north than San Francisco geographically, for example, the U.S. capital is 7 degrees farther north in terms of geomagnetic latitude.

Although the authors make no claim to a causal explanation for their findings, they identify five characteristics of the disease occurrence that are not obviously explained by any of the currently leading hypotheses. These include the east-west asymmetries of the RA and GCA outbreaks and the periodicities of the incidences in concert with the solar cycle. Among the possible causal pathways the authors consider are reduced production of the hormone melatonin, an anti-inflammatory mediator with immune-enhancing effects, and increased formation of free radicals in susceptible individuals. A study of 142 electrical power workers found that excretion of melatonin — a proxy used to estimate production of the hormone — was reduced by 21 percent on days with increased geomagnetic activity.

Confirming a causal link between outbreaks of RA and GCA and geomagnetic activity would be an important step towards developing strategies for mitigating the impact of the activity on susceptible individuals. These strategies could include relocating to lower latitudes and developing methods to counteract direct causal agents that may be controlled by geomagnetic activity. For now, say the authors, their findings warrant further investigations covering longer time periods, additional locations and other autoimmune diseases.


120 thoughts on “Surprising: Researchers correlate rheumatoid arthritis and giant cell arteritis with solar cycles

  1. When I toured the Soviet Union in 1976 as an envoy from the US [on Protection of the Environment], I visited dozens of research institutes. Including an asylum for the insane [no kidding]. Its director claimed that the level of ‘agitation’ among the inmates peaked strongly when a solar sector boundary passed the Earth. She even suggested that we could use her data to fill in gaps in the spacecraft coverage of measuring the magnetic field of the solar wind.

    • Weird, and really cool to hear about. I would never have imagined this. What could be the causal agent? So bizarre.

      • Yes, one wonders how RA or GCA could possible affect the solar cycles it just seems weird. You know?
        like Clouds affecting the cosmic radiation and things like that.

      • ” What could be the causal agent?”
        The causal agent of such delusions is typically confiatiom bias.

    • I feel this disparages those not held in any asylum.
      They might be as barking mad as anyone else, yet their agitation doesn’t reflect in the measurements ?
      An obviously underfunded field of study.

      • Such fetching head gear especially on a sunny day.
        Just wait till the “elf and safety” boys and girls get hold of this one!!!!!! We’ll all have to wear them HA HA
        James Bull

      • Well maybe not tinfoil hats, but copper bracelets and/or magnetic ones.
        It would really be a hoot if these so-called quack remedies accidentally were doing the right thing.
        In any case, those of us with pains can still blame it on weather, only thing now it’s solar weather…
        (Long-time WUWT reader/lurker here – I’m not crazy, and neither am I)…

    • In 1976, Soviet “asylums” were used to hold dissidents — probably, the only sane people in the USSR.
      Soviet authorities always welcomed flaming fools from the West who believed everything they were told.
      Oh yes, “at times WUWT seems to qualify as a bona fide asylum,” especially when certain Leif Svalgaard comes here in a state of mental agitation.

    • So, Leif, how did that work out, you helping to protect the environment in the old USSR? I believe many scietists were alarmed at possible global cooling back in 1976. Then there was Chernobyl in 1986. Seems like they should have been getting some advice on nuclear facilitiy controls.

      • Presidents Nixon and Brezhnev entered an agreement back then about Protection of the Environment. As part of that, it was agreed that expert scientists from each country would visit the other country to learn/advise on the subject of the agreement. There were several [about 10] areas of concerns. One was Climate and the possible influence of the Sun [I was partly responsible for reviving that dead horse briefly back in the seventies], and scientists from each area of concern took part in the exchange, see e.g.
        And, indeed, global cooling was a concern back then. And there were other areas, like protecting Polar Bears and the like. Nothing new under the sun.

      • Lief,
        There was a guy named Dr. Iben Browning that I heard speak not too long after that time period who was warning of global cooling based upon vulcanic eruptions he was predicting due to planetary, lunar and solar alignments and the resultant gravitational forces they would cause. Predicted the 1990 New Madrid fault shake (gave it a 50/50 chance). He was considered a “climatologist” at the time by many. Ever run into him?

    • Now I can speak with authority that ….. the “time” that a person is inflicted with the early symptoms of RA ……. and the “time” that a medical doctor diagnoses his/her condition as being RA, …….. can be several years.
      RA is not like the measles, … its infliction/affliction status does not display itself after 8 to 1o days. Therefore I serious doubt that any medical doctors knows when his/her patient actually became inflicted with RA.
      Now I’m fairly sure that I can “feel-it” whenever my RA “flares” up, ….. so maybe I ought to start keeping a diary of those “flare-ups” ….. to see if they correlate to the solar “flare-ups”.
      NAH, I got better things to do.

  2. Look through enough sets of data tables, and eventually you’ll find some that correlate. How many sets of disease incidence figures did they have to examine to find one with a ten-year cycle?

    • Except they claim they did just the opposite. They noticed a ten year period in cases and decided to compare them to the solar cycle.
      It could still be a coincidence. That’s why you study it further. Make your predictions and gather data, and see how close you come. That’s SCIENCE.

  3. Dr. John Cannell has persuasively argued that influenza is related to Vitamin D which in turn is related to sun exposure. In the primary article – Epidemic Influenza and Vitamin D (2006) – contains this quote:
    Hope-Simpson was the first to note an association
    between severe influenza epidemics and solar flare
    activity [66]. In 1990, Hoyle and Wickramasinghe
    confirmed the association but von Alvensleben dis-
    puted it [67, 68]. Horgan [69] promptly derided the
    observations, connecting them to viral invasions from
    outer space, a theory Hope-Simpson dismissed in his
    1992 book [3]. Since the controversy, science has
    learned that solar flare activity increases high-altitude
    ozone, which, in turn, absorbs more UVB radiation
    thereby decreasing surface UVB [70]. Thus, para-
    doxically, heightened solar activity reduces surface
    UVB; presumably, average 25(OH)D levels would be
    lower as well. Rozema et al. estimated the variations
    in surface UVB radiation due to the solar flare activity
    over the last 300 years and estimated that, beginning
    in the eighteenth century, ‘the dose of surface UV-B
    should be (about) 4% to 13% lower at maxima of
    the 11-year solar cycle’ [71]. Although modest, such
    reoccurring decreases in UVB radiation should trigger
    reductions in average 25(OH)D levels, which, in turn,
    could trigger nonlinear factors related to influenza infectivity.

    • Rheumatoid arthritis is related to vitamin D levels:
      Hypovitaminosis D in recent onset rheumatoid arthritis is predictive of reduced response to treatment and increased disease activity: a 12 month follow-up study.
      Di Franco M1, Barchetta I2, Iannuccelli C3, Gerardi MC4, Frisenda S5, Ceccarelli F6, Valesini G7, Cavallo MG8.
      Author information
      Vitamin D displays immunomodulatory activities and has been proposed as a potential player in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). A negative association between serum 25(OH) vitamin D levels and RA activity was demonstrated but longitudinal studies investigating the role of vitamin D levels in predicting RA activity and response to treatment are lacking. Therefore, this study was designed to test the hypothesis of an association between serum 25(OH) vitamin D levels at RA diagnosis and disease activity evaluated by clinimetric, laboratory and ultrasound (US) parameters and to detect the prevalence of remission and response to treatment after 12 months follow-up.
      This is a longitudinal, retrospective study on data obtained from thirty-seven patients with early RA treatment-naïve. Serum inflammatory markers, auto-antibodies and 25(OH) vitamin D levels were obtained at baseline. Hypovitaminosis D was diagnosed for 25(OH) vitamin D levels < 20 ng/ml. Tender joint count (TJCs), swollen joint count (SJCs), Visual Analog Scales (VAS), Disease Activity Score (DAS) 28 score were assessed at baseline and 12 months after diagnosis. Joints synovitis and power-Doppler were evaluated at baseline and 12 months later.
      At baseline mean 25(OH) vitamin D levels were 24.4 ± 11.9 ng/ml; 35% of study subjects had hypovitaminosis D which strongly associated with higher RA activity and lower prevalence of remission and response to treatment (all p-values < 0.001). The percentage of patients not presenting a reduction of the US synovitis score after 12 months from diagnosis was significantly higher among patients with hypovitaminosis D than in those with normal serum 25(OH) vitamin D at baseline.
      In patients with early RA and basal hypovitaminosis D after 12 months follow-up reduction of disease activity and percentage of remission and response to treatment were significantly lower than those observed in patients with normal vitamin D levels. These results provide further support to the immunomodulatory action of vitamin D in RA and suggest a role of basal vitamin D status in the prediction of disease evolution. Vitamin D measurement and possibly vitamin D supplementation should be considered an additional option in the management of early RA patients.
      [PubMed – in process]
      Free PMC Article

      • Re the USSR and the science of unusual correlations:
        It turns out that a large enough release of radiation will stamp out communism, although the effect is somewhat delayed, and begins to wear off after a few decades.

      • GED,
        Mel had nothing to do with it. Trust me, I was with him at the time.
        But that Dr. Iben Peenmahpants is looking highly suspicious to me as an agitator.

    • That’s how influenza got its name. The early astrologers/medicine men thought that the coughing and the sneezing was caused by the influence of the planets, hence they called it influenza. Today its known as the flu or the cold.

      • Sorry to take you literally if this is intended as a joke, but influenza and the common cold are quite different, originating in different families of virus.
        The term ‘cold’ is the English translation of the Greek term for cold (as in temperature) and the terminology goes back to Hippocrates (460-370 BC), who related illness and heath to the four humours. The four constituents of the human body (blood, phlegm, back bile, yellow bile) were each related to climate, and people living in hot or cold climates were believed to have an excess of the humour related to that climate.
        Phlegm, the cold wet humour, would be found in excess in Northern Europeans. When it was winter, an even greater excess of cold temperatures would result in greater outbreaks of the common cold, but the cold could hit at any time of year in cool northern climates.
        Influenza is more linked to outbreaks in the fall and winter.
        It strikes me that linking rheumatoid arthritis to solar flares in a sense resurrects the Hippocratic linkage of health and environment.

    • As E.M. Smith likes to point out, correlation may not be causation, but it is a big arrow that says “Dig here!” How do you think anything gets figured out without someone, at sometime observing a pattern and wondering, “Are these connected?”

    • Nobody said it did.
      However correlations can often help you narrow down where to look for causation.

  4. URL? Link? Correlation coeffs? DATA?
    Probably correlates to volcanic activity and precession of the lunar aspides as well.

    • Read the article yourself, here’s the abstract, you can find it on PubMed:
      Epidemiol Infect. 2006 Dec;134(6):1129-40. Epub 2006 Sep 7.
      Epidemic influenza and vitamin D.
      Cannell JJ1, Vieth R, Umhau JC, Holick MF, Grant WB, Madronich S, Garland CF, Giovannucci E.
      Author information
      In 1981, R. Edgar Hope-Simpson proposed that a ‘seasonal stimulus’ intimately associated with solar radiation explained the remarkable seasonality of epidemic influenza. Solar radiation triggers robust seasonal vitamin D production in the skin; vitamin D deficiency is common in the winter, and activated vitamin D, 1,25(OH)2D, a steroid hormone, has profound effects on human immunity. 1,25(OH)2D acts as an immune system modulator, preventing excessive expression of inflammatory cytokines and increasing the ‘oxidative burst’ potential of macrophages. Perhaps most importantly, it dramatically stimulates the expression of potent anti-microbial peptides, which exist in neutrophils, monocytes, natural killer cells, and in epithelial cells lining the respiratory tract where they play a major role in protecting the lung from infection. Volunteers inoculated with live attenuated influenza virus are more likely to develop fever and serological evidence of an immune response in the winter. Vitamin D deficiency predisposes children to respiratory infections. Ultraviolet radiation (either from artificial sources or from sunlight) reduces the incidence of viral respiratory infections, as does cod liver oil (which contains vitamin D). An interventional study showed that vitamin D reduces the incidence of respiratory infections in children. We conclude that vitamin D, or lack of it, may be Hope-Simpson’s ‘seasonal stimulus’.
      Comment in
      Re: epidemic influenza and vitamin D. [Epidemiol Infect. 2007]
      Epidemic influenza and vitamin D. [Epidemiol Infect. 2007]
      [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
      Free PMC Article

    • Here’s the actual paper citation: S. Wing, L. G. Rider, J. R. Johnson, F. W. Miller, E. L. Matteson, C. S. Crowson, S. E. Gabriel. Do solar cycles influence giant cell arteritis and rheumatoid arthritis incidence? BMJ Open, 2015; 5 (5): e006636 DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-006636
      And direct link:

  5. Well folks, when the Paris talks fail, this will be the new enviro-wacko campaign to stop solar flares.

    • Stop solar flares? I wonder what the greens will come up with that will do that?
      …by an amazing coincidence, I bet socialism does it. >¿<

      • Why not? Logically, “Stopping Climate change” will require stopping the drift of continental plates but they think that is achievable. 😉

  6. interesting, far from conclusive but well worth pursuing and congratulations on the researchers for spotting them.
    But just one horrific thought: How long before we see a fake “cure” based on this?

    • Why wait? Isn’t wearing magnetic bracelets etc. considered therapeutic for arthritis? Google “magnets and arthritis” for 404,000 results.

  7. I’m gonna make a fortune selling Tinfoil bodysuits to the Progressive antivaxers-antiGMO crowd with this one. My suits will incorporate my specially-designed, patent-pending magnetic shielding so no one but me can profit.
    Special carbon fibers impregnated with copper in my suit will also shield them from WiFi, cell phone, and Bluetooth EM radiation that is also making for more dementia. The Left-leaning progressive mind seem especially vulnerable to this EM induced dementia, so marketing will be targeted to this gullible vulnerable group. Soon you’ll be able to visually pick out Progressives on a crowded street by their suits. For the > 1%’er Progressives, copper can be substituted out with either silver or gold… at the appropriate price points of course for the more fashion minded upper 0.1%ers.
    Tinfoil hats are so 70’s.
    /sarc off

  8. And here’s another quote from Cannell et al 2006:
    Global weather changes are associated with El
    Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) [63]. Viboud
    et al. found an average of 3.7 million influenza cases in
    France during the 10 cold phases of ENSO but only
    1.8 million cases during the eight warm phases [64].
    The same authors reported that cold ENSO phases
    are associated with colder temperatures in Europe.
    Colder temperatures should lower mean serum
    population 25(OH)D levels by lessening outdoor
    activity and necessitating more clothes when out-
    doors. Ebi et al. studied six Californian counties and
    found that hospitalizations for viral pneumonia
    peaked around the winter solstice in all six counties
    [65]. They also found hospitalizations increased
    30–50% for every 5 degrees F (3 degrees C) decrease in minimum
    temperatures in four counties and increased 25–40%
    for every 5 degrees F (3 degrees C) decrease in maximum tempera-
    tures in the other two.

  9. We live in the world. We’re affected by the world.
    Maybe, maybe, they noticed something that is significant.
    I don’t know.
    Too bad that so many funds are being directed to support a hypothesis of what would happen but hasn’t instead of being available to check out if there is something to things like this.

  10. Not surprising. It has already been shown that a number of immune system functions are up-regulated by exposure to low-level radiation. And these are both autoimmune diseases, in which the immune system is overactive.

    • Not so much overactive, just turned on to attacking the “self”. The treatment is often suppressing the immune system with drugs. In the case of MS, for instance, you take the T-cell counts down to what would almost be considered borderline aids levels.

  11. Autoimmune diseases have no known large scale correlation with anything except maybe genetic predisposition. I should know, since my mother died of one (MS) and my sister is permanently disabled by another (lupus). Look at the small N over the long time frame , and then cite the statistical significance of this patheticaly speculative study. More Cargo Cult science, pleading for additional funding to produce more wooden headphone replicas.
    Said with a heavy heart, since had the utmost respect for Mayo (have collaborated with them since the mid 1990’s) and Hopkins. Until now.

    • Not all autoimmune diseases are created equal, and they most certainly do not have the same sources/causes.

      • You are most certainly right about the varying underlying causes of the many crippling autoimmune diseases (MS, lupus, Crohn’s, several versions of psoriasis, three forms of RA, even anaphalactic shock (peanuts, bee stings). None of which have any obvious or non-obvious connections to solar cycles.
        As for the vitamin D and melatonin RA hypotheses, both food supplements are available in gross excess quantities OTC. I have used melatonin pills for decades to mitigate jet lag (used to commute to Europe ~15x/year, plus Asia (Japan, China, Singapore) ~4x/year). If there was an autoimmune/D or melatonin connection, a simple double blind experiment could have sussed it out long before now. Nobody has done so.
        Nobody will, for two reasons. First, not patent protected. Second, illogical based on all the massive anecdotal evidence that RA suffers do not improve on jet lagged transcontinent trips aided by melatonin. Vitamin D supplements do not alleviate RA symptoms. Many RA suffers already take D supplements, since cannot get enough out and about in the sun. Not to mention that latitudinal Vitamin D differences have no statistical correlation to RA symptoms. No differences between Minnesota and Florida.

      • “ristvan
        June 16, 2015 at 4:59 pm
        …versions of psoriasis…”
        I suffer from this. It is genetic and largely stress induced. I had no evidence of the condition until after 2009. Reminds me of the TV show in the UK called “The Singing Detective” and how the condition caused bouts of insanity.

    • Let me add this real life experience. My sister has a severe case of RA. It kind of runs on my father’s side of the family. Knowing this, as I started to exhibit RA symptoms in my left wrist I had to fight with my doctor to perform the blood test for RA. His protocol was to go through orthopedics first and seek treatment that way. Only through my insistence did he finally relent and did the RA test. Now the RA factor wasn’t quite there yet but the CCP markers were quite high, an indication that, according to my Rheumatologist, I was for sure going to get full blown RA. He started me on Methotrexate weekly and that has relieved the symptoms. I will remain on this medication for the rest of my life to prevent the onset of RA. I was fortunate that I knew my family history and we caught the disease before there was any damage to my joints.
      As my rheumatologist says, I have a genetic disease. My diet, my activities, my lifelong exposure to sunlight and other environmental conditions have nothing to do with it. I can attest to that as the only changes I have had to make are to stop drinking alcohol as the methotrexate is harsh on my liver and kidneys. I have changed foods, eliminated and then re-added others constantly testing to see if any of that mattered. After more than two years I found that it doesn’t. We even gradually lowered the dose of the methotrexate in order to find the smallest effective dose and I found that once we hit too low of a dose the symptoms came back. Raising the dosage again stopped the symptoms. (for the record methotrexate takes several weeks to start working and several weeks to be eliminated from the body enough to cause a recurrence of symptoms.)
      I constantly encourage those with joint pain to get an RA test. It may not be RA or pre-RA but if it is you can prevent a lot of future pain and joint deterioration by starting treatment as early as possible.

  12. From Wikipedia entry for melatonin: “It is principally blue light, around 460 to 480 nm, that suppresses melatonin, proportional to the light intensity and length of exposure.” How does the flux of light in this energy range vary during the solar cycle?

  13. wonder if fibromyalgia (since its also so weather dependent) affected by this.
    I know using more vit d helps with it for me.

  14. I may have to see if my Crohn’s (another autoimmune disease) flares up with solar activity. And oddly the two bad bouts of clinical depression I have suffered were about 11 years apart.

  15. George Devries Klein, PhD, PG, FGSA
    June 16, 2015 at 3:13 pm
    “Well folks, when the Paris talks fail, this will be the new enviro-wacko campaign to stop solar flares.”
    Is this the same person that added those letters “PhD, PG, FGSA ” under another name 2-3 weeks ago, and added just as much to the conversation ?
    I thought so.
    [??? .mod]

  16. This research itself is not reproducible. I’ve tried to get patient data similar to this (but for other conditions) from US insurance companies and the Danes. Everyone who has such data wants scads of money for even a simple search.
    Do we have any researchers @ WUWT from Denmark want to take a look at this hypothesis and see? I dont’ believe Danish researchers need to pay for Danish national patient info.
    I doubt that the Mayo Clinic is going to make their patient data available without cost to question one of their papers. Also, the Mayo clinic patient database is not really large enough to conclude on rare conditions. Insurance companies, on the other hand, have enormous databases; certainly enough to falsify this hypothesis.

  17. I hope this is not a researcher taking after the examples of warmists claiming man-made global warming causes everything bad.
    I would need to see this research independently reproduced, maybe several times before accepting it as anything more than “news of the weird.”

  18. This article is free to read and provides an overview of recent science on relationship of Vitamin D and rheumatoid arthritis.
    Iran J Med Sci. 2014 Sep;39(5):476-9.
    Investigating the levels of serum vitamin d in patients with rheumatoid arthritis referred to rasoul-akram hospital during 2011-2012.
    Fakharan M1, Haghighi A2, Arabi M1, Loghman M1.
    Author information
    Vitamin D3 has a role in many autoimmune diseases and appears to play a function in controlling Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). The aim of this study is to evaluate the relationship between serum level of vitamin D and RA disease activity score. The serum level of vitamin D in 75 RA patients referred to the rheumatology clinic of Rasoul-Akram hospital was measured. Patients were classified into low, moderate and high RA activity groups based on the DAS-28 criteria (Disease Activity Score in 28 joints) and the mean values of serum vitamin D were compared between the three groups. The mean serum levels of vitamin D in high activity group (17.057±7.7 mg/ml) was significantly less than moderate (30.5±11.3 mg/ml) and low (36.7±19.5 mg/ml) activity groups (P<0.001). The outcome of this study shows that serum level of vitamin D is inversely correlated with the activity of RA.
    Iran; Rheumatoid arthritis; Vitamin D
    PMID: 25242848[PubMed]
    PMCID: PMC4164897
    Free PMC Article

  19. Multiple sclerosis is a common auto-immune disease. It shows a latitudinal pattern of prevalence, with greater incidence at higher latitudes, as do many other diseases, which suggests that their prevalence is related to sun exposure and sufficiency of the “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D. This article discusses MS and is free to read. The abstract can be found on PubMed.
    Mult Scler Int. 2014;2014:124578. doi: 10.1155/2014/124578. Epub 2014 Feb 16.
    Spatial analysis of global prevalence of multiple sclerosis suggests need for an updated prevalence scale.
    Wade BJ1.
    Author information
    Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a demyelinating disease of the central nervous system with an unknown aetiology. MS has a geographic pattern of prevalence with high prevalence rates between 45 degrees and 65 degrees north. In much of the northern hemisphere, there exists a prevalence gradient, with increasing prevalence from south to north. While genetics may partially explain the latitudinal gradient, it is not strong enough to exclude exogenous variables. Kurtzke initially came up with a three-zone scale for low, medium, and high prevalence zones. He defined high as 30 or more per 100,000, medium as 5-29 per 100,000, and low as less than 5 per 100,000. In this study, 131 geographic datasets (geocases) were spatially analyzed to determine whether the existing global prevalence scale needed to be updated. The mean prevalence rate was 67.83/100,000 with rates ranging from 350/100,000 to 0/100,000. The results of this study suggest that the commonly referenced scale for global MS prevalence needs to be updated with added zones to reflect significantly higher prevalence rates in some areas of the world. We suggest a five-zone scale: very high (170-350), high (70-170), medium (38-70), low (13-38), and very low (0-13).
    Free PMC Article

  20. Sometimes you just gotta wonder as to how much research has been wasted due to the herd instinct.
    If it wasn’t for some unherdable individuals, then things like plate tectonics, cloud formation by cosmic rays, etc might never have been investigated in a timely matter.
    Then again, what young modern researcher in their right mind would ever pursue an investigation into something which could end their career?

  21. Perhaps what’s going on here is that during magnetic storms there is an increased incidence of people banging their fists against the wall in frustration at their mobile phone, computer or TV not working. O wait – it goes back to the 50’s?

  22. I wouldn’t knock these guys. This is what science should be about. They have found something interesting and they are looking into it. They are not claiming anything , yet. They are going look further. They may or may not come up with anything new.
    I found this recently. Good for a laugh and shows you can find data , trends and comparisons in all sorts of things.

    • “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not Eureka! (I found it!) but rather, ‘hmm… that’s funny…'”
      – Isaac Asimov

  23. They should study a subset of people who identify their profession as “welder” to test the melatonin theory.
    I get a noticeable sun tan from exposure to ultraviolet from a welding arc even after just a few minutes of welding.

    • I doubt you would see a correlation there, as welders wear lots of heavy insulating gear to prevent thermal burns and sunburn from the UV, an dto help prevent getting shocked by the arc current.

    • Protective gear is there for a reason. Even so, sometimes you get a molten hot ball of metal burning through the crotch of that gear, gets you jumping about a bit!

  24. Since my mother, 20 years older than me, has crippling rheumatoid arthritis and twenty years younger, I have none, I’m thankful the link isn’t causal.

      • Vitamin D can be abosrbed to the body from exposure to sunlight. My former wife, who is African, needed Vit D supplements even in the sunny land of Australia I call home.

  25. Must be some long term studies of people taking Vitamin D supplements. Wonder how they fair…..

  26. When it comes to this sort of discussion we all look for black or white, either/or, sort of answers, and we all cannot help referring to our own personal, individual experiences. We all talk blithely about, and know intellectually, that each of us human individuals is genetically unique. Therefore we should at all times remember that we can only ever hope to understand life and nature by observing trends and recording any findings dispassionately. These scientific findings seem to me so interesting and valuable. They serve to emphasise the point that everything in our physical world, seen and unseen, will have an influence on each and every atom in our bodies and on each and every atom in our environment. The result will be, and must be, chaotic. Our existence is chaos – let us accept that resignedly and happily.

  27. there are some many disease and syndromes than some of them are bound to correlates with solar cycle.
    And likewise, the other way around, there are so many thing which correlation with arthritis COULD be tested, that you are bound to find one ; maybe cabbage production, R Vs D ratio in senate, coal production in china, or …
    You just have to test enough correlation to find one…
    That is the trouble explaining “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False”, and the trick behind the “eat chocolate to lose weight” sting.

  28. Is it too hard to consider? If we consider the lunar cycle of 28 days correlates well with the average menstural cycle of women, which is also 28 days.

  29. It is a shame that some are lambasting this research – ‘ridiculously small study’,
    ‘we know it has no effect’, ‘my mother has this’, ‘I have that’.
    I am sorry but this is an initial study, using data that was available to the researchers, and has produced interesting results.
    So interesting, I suspect that international collaboration is already underway, to amass a large multi-country dataset, to see if this proposed relationship stands up.
    With a large dataset, researchers could test for genetic commonalities, age, sex, location, work, diet and medical history.
    It’s the way research goes, start small, and increase in size if you find something……

  30. I don’t see why humans shouldn’t respond to geomagnetic variations: plants certainly seem to.
    Far finer market gardeners than I have noted that seed germination is significantly affected by lunar cycles (optimal germination and vigour often occurs when sowing 2 days prior to full moon) and I have certainly seen my best growth ever of lettuce and radish by following such strictures. The biodynamic movement has arisen from such observations/hypotheses. The Schumann resonances provide a physical starting point for trying to discover whether there is any truth to these interesting conjectures.
    WE are after all a species which evolved on a planet subject to variations in geomagnetic activity due to solar/lunar/cosmic ray influences.
    It should not be beyond the bounds of possibility to conclude that evolution favoured species that could take advantage of such physical characteristics and the fact that certain downsides also exist does not imply that there is not evolutionary advantage in being capable of responding to such variations in nature……..

  31. I have severe RA, I am one of the not so rare who do NOT show the RA gene.
    I find it funny that many are ridiculing this when our bodies DO contain iron/copper which reacts to magnetism, another reason the MRI fella who did a scan on me admitted they really didnt know what long term effects of such will be.
    pretty big insult to the cells copping the shifting field if you think about it.
    I have days when even though its fine weather I am less than mobile
    Ive noted they correlate to incoming CME . and I get migraines well before the barometer starts to swing prior to storms, as well as hips aching before rain
    and that HAS been linked to changes in barometric pressure .
    and a comment to the believers in HPV vax..its an admitted Fact BY the pharmas(merk) that if you HAVE the HPV strains they vax for..and many many do..young or not, then the INcreased risk OF cancer is well over 40%
    if youre dumb enough to believe the hype then I guess youre too daft to insist your daughters get tested for it prior to vaxxing?
    majority of human HPV is actually taken care of BY the body itself in 90 days or so.
    a serious look at the real volume of proven to be hpv caused damned low!
    smarter nations have banned it now due to large volumes of serious reactions inc death.
    IF> you believe and want it, fine, but NOT for young kids and as close to mandatory as makes no difference by social indoctrination and scaring them.

    • Talking of iron in the human body. I suffer from hemochromatosis, iron rich blood. My count is over 1300. So not only can a nail be made from my blood, but a whole bag full!

      • Patrick – above you mentioned you have psoriasis. Check out this article. The daily dose of Vitamin D is pharmacological, to say the least, but the results impressive compared to all other treatments of psoriasis. Again, the article is free at PubMed.
        Dermatoendocrinol. 2013 Jan 1;5(1):222-34. doi: 10.4161/derm.24808.
        A pilot study assessing the effect of prolonged administration of high daily doses of vitamin D on the clinical course of vitiligo and psoriasis.
        Finamor DC1, Sinigaglia-Coimbra R1, Neves LC2, Gutierrez M3, Silva JJ1, Torres LD1, Surano F1, Neto DJ4, Novo NF5, Juliano Y5, Lopes AC6, Coimbra CG1.
        Author information
        Autoimmunity has been associated with vitamin D deficiency and resistance, with gene polymorphisms related to vitamin D metabolism frequently described in affected patients. High doses of vitamin D3 may conceivably compensate for inherited resistance to its biological effects. This study aimed to assess the efficacy and safety of prolonged high-dose vitamin D3 treatment of patients with psoriasis and vitiligo. Nine patients with psoriasis and 16 patients with vitiligo received vitamin D3 35,000 IU once daily for six months in association with a low-calcium diet (avoiding dairy products and calcium-enriched foods like oat, rice or soya “milk”) and hydration (minimum 2.5 L daily). All psoriasis patients were scored according to “Psoriasis Area and Severity Index” (PASI) at baseline and after treatment. Evaluation of clinical response of vitiligo patients required a quartile grading scale. All patients presented low vitamin D status (serum 25(OH)D3 ≤ 30 ng/mL) at baseline. After treatment 25(OH)D3 levels significantly increased (from 14.9 ± 7.4 to 106.3 ± 31.9 ng/mL and from 18.4 ± 8.9 to 132.5 ± 37.0 ng/mL) and PTH levels significantly decreased (from 57.8 ± 16.7 to 28.9 ± 8.2 pg/mL and from 55.3 ± 25.0 to 25.4 ± 10.7 pg/mL) in patients with psoriasis and vitiligo respectively. PTH and 25(OH)D3 serum concentrations correlated inversely. The PASI score significantly improved in all nine patients with psoriasis. Fourteen of 16 patients with vitiligo had 25-75% repigmentation. Serum urea, creatinine and calcium (total and ionized) did not change and urinary calcium excretion increased within the normal range. High-dose vitamin D3 therapy may be effective and safe for vitiligo and psoriasis patients.
        25(OH)D3; autoimmunity; calcium; high dose; psoriasis; toxicity; treatment; vitamin D; vitiligo
        Free PMC Article

  32. I have noted for a number of years that my pompholyx eczema flares up within a day or two of faster solar wind bursts. I also suspect that more serious health problems arise from proton bursts.

  33. ‘a “highly significant” correlation between periodic solar storms and incidences of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and giant cell arteritis (GCA)’
    by all means no – everybody knows arthritis is connected to meat consumption:
    crystall aggregation of
    uric acid
    qui bono – wer profitiert von den Lügen.
    Climate, the whore of science.
    stunned. Hans

  34. btw, which scientist is engaged in reducing uric acid in all day meals.
    not that much gold medals blinking.
    not that much science on duty.
    / that’s called Stachanow Award: everybody knows Stachanow gets the award, so why engage /
    [?? .mod]

  35. This discussion reminds me of something I have not remembered in decades. My first job was that of an outside plant engineer for a utility. We had construction crews constantly digging and backifilling trenches in the process of laying new cables. They claimed it was well-known that if the trench were dug around the time of a full moon, and backfilled close to a new moon, the dirt would mound on top and need to be heavily tamped down or removed to level the ste. OTOH, if the trench were dug during the new moon and backfilled close to a full moon, it would be depressed, requiring additional dirt brought in for leveling.
    These guys were definitely not interested in any fancy theories; they were only concerned with the equipment and materials required for the project at hand.
    Anyone else hear of odd observations like this?

    • Yes!
      Back in the eighties my father bought some land in a rural area of West Central Florida.
      I eventually ended up constructing a huge plant nursery on a part of the property, and I remember and think about, to this day, how all the locals around there would constantly be warning us about stuff to make sure to do or not do.
      One was to never build a fence when the moon was waxing!
      Something about the posts not being able to “set” properly.
      I was in college at the time, studying all manner of natural sciences, including astronomy and physical geography.
      Needless to say I was highly skeptical of this belief, and not yet diplomatic enough in my interactions with people to be low key about my skepticism (Still working on that, as it happens!).
      Like, wtf was going to happen? The Earth would spit out the posts like a used toothpick?
      I kind of got the idea that thus ” fact” was so deeply planted(!) in the bumkin lore that it is possible no one would, and hence had, ever tried it to see, thus confirming that only fences built while the moon was waning are still standing.

      • So when you dug posts for the nursery did you comply or defy the conventional wisdom? Or maybe did the job when needed and didn’t notice any result?? Seems hard to believe that people that install fences for a living take half the month off.
        I’m almost, but not quite curious enough to dig a couple of test trenches in the back yard.

    • Hmm, sand tides (Florida anyway) Sounds a bit dubious to me but getting experimental evidence would seem to be straight forward. No models please.
      I don’t believe in government (tax) funding generally but if they are going to do it then it’s off the wall stuff like this that might lead to something really cool. Enough “me too” studies, it’s tough to find new stuff in old places. Electric universe, Expanding Earth, X-planet. All may end up whack job hypothesis but who knows what oblique discoveries could be made.
      I’d like to see paleo-microbiology. (never say impossible…though this seemingly borders on it) 40 years ago in biology books when cell parts are pictured as blobs it was easy to convince yourself that one blob could mutate to another blob. This many technology years later you look at structures that bring nutrients, expel waste and even how virus get in and multiply and Wow, It gets harder to believe that a series of chemical reactions spontaneously self replicated and/or where the hurdles get jumped to form these complicated structures. May be a mystery lost to time but boy it could shed some light.

  36. “Jethro, can you pass me my jug of rheumatiz medicine?
    My bones is acting up again. Think it’s gonna hail.”

  37. Sun (UV) exposure is a well known immune system activator – people with Lupus are advised to wear sun protection year-round and high factors when in the sun.

  38. interesting correlation. Makes me wonder if the unusual high incidence of MS in Colorado can be linked into solar cycles as well. As you know, we have over 300 sunny days and live at high altitude.

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