Using data from two studies, the Nurses' Health Study I and the Nurses' Health Study II, researchers examined whether there is a link between ultraviolet-B (UV-B) exposure and the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis in women. In NHSI, which monitored study participants from 1976 until about 2008, higher cumulative exposure to UV-B was linked to decreased risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
In NHSII, which monitored study participants from 1989 until about 2009, UV-B exposure was not associated with rheumatoid arthritis risk. The discrepancy of results between NHSI and NHSII may be due to increased use of sun block. The study, published online February 4, 2013 in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, concluded that reasonable exposure to sunshine may help increase vitamin D levels and protect against rheumatoid arthritis. In NHI, those living in the sunniest parts of the U.S. were 21% less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than those with the least exposure to UV-B.
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