Most of us know that life expectancy is affected by certain life style habits, such as smoking, doing regular exercise, maintaining proper body weight or being genetically predisposed to certain health problems. Who would have thought that the year a person was born in could have an effect on the person’s life? Well, as weird and strange as it may sound, this happens to be true. It all boils down to the sun. Surprised? Read on to find out how the sun can affect your life expectancy.
Sun and Life Expectancy
The ultraviolet rays from the sun hit the earth and when they come in contact with our skin, it facilitates the production of Vitamin D in the skin. In addition, the ultraviolet rays also cause the skin to turn brown (tan) or get sunburned. However, researchers have also found that sun has an effect on life expectancy. In a study involved more than 300,000 participants born in Maine, researchers found that those people, who were born in peak solar years, lived 1.5 years less compared to people, who were born in on-peak solar years.
Peak Solar Years
As strange as it may sound, the same amount of energy does not emit from the sun every year. Peak solar years refer to the years when the sun experiences the most solar flares and due to this more amount of ultraviolet radiation makes it to the earth. This solar cycle of increased and decreased energy takes place over a period of 11 years and then a new cycle continues. Researchers found that people born during peak solar years lived 1.5 years less on an average compared to those who were not born during these years.
Why Are Peak Solar Years Important?
As mentioned earlier, during a peak solar year, the sun emits more ultraviolet radiation. This means that more radiation is reaching the earth. Imagine, what this excess radiation can do the genes when a woman is pregnant? It is quite possible that the ultraviolet radiation switches on certain genes and also switches them off. Hence, this can have an adverse effect on the immune system of the growing fetus and that is why it affects the health in later years. It may also be interesting to note that peak solar years have more adverse effect on men compared to women.
It is really strange to find that sun can actually have an effect on a person’s longevity just based on the year the person was born in. It is perhaps the sun affects the way genes are expressed when solar flares cause radiation to increase. What this really means is not known at this point of time. Perhaps, later on researchers may advice pregnant women to stay out of the sun during peak solar years. However, till now studies have not adjusted life expectancy based on the year a person was born. So maybe this fact is not that important.
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