Lupus patients may develop more severe symptoms if their vitamin D levels are low, says an Australian study. Known as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), lupus is an autoimmune disease, which prompts an attack on tissues of the body by its own immune system, affecting more than five million people worldwide. It can also lead to kidney disease. Although its cause is unknown, the results can be disastrous as the body stops producing normal antibodies, which becomes instrumental in an attack on healthy tissues.
Eric Morand, professor and head of the Monash lupus clinic, who led the study, said although avoiding the sun is important for lupus patients, as sunlight can aggravate the condition, but this can also lead to vitamin D deficiency and contribute to its severity, according to a Monash statement. ”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 said.
“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,” added Morand. The findings will be presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australian Rheumatology Association in Canberra from May 11-15 , coinciding with the observance of World Lupus Day on May 10.