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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Variation in ultraviolet radiation and diabetes: evidence of an epigenetic effect that modulates diabetics’ lifespan

George E Davis* and Walter E Lowell

Author Affiliations

Psybernetics Research Group, 28 Eastern Ave., Augusta, ME 04330, USA

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Clinical Epigenetics 2013, 5:5  doi:10.1186/1868-7083-5-5

Published: 2 April 2013

Abstract

Background

Published research has shown that month-of-birth variations modulate the incidence of adult human diseases. This article explores diabetes type 2 as one of those diseases. This study uses the death records of approximately 829,000 diabetics (approximately 90% were type-2) born before the year 1945 (and dying between 1979 and 2005) to show that variations in adult lifespan vary with ultraviolet radiation (UVR) at solar cycle peaks (MAX, approximately a three-year period) with less at non-peaks (MIN, approximately an eight-year period). The MAX minus MIN (in years) was our measure of sensitivity (for example, responsiveness) to long-term variations in UVR.

Results

Diabetics were less sensitive than non-diabetics, and ethnic minorities were more sensitive than whites. Diabetic males gained 6.1 years, and females 2.3 years over non-diabetics, with diabetic males gaining an average of 3.8 years over diabetic females. Most variation in lifespan occurred in those conceived around the seasonal equinoxes, suggesting that the human epigenome at conception is especially influenced by rapid variation in UVR. With rapidly decreasing UVR at conception, lifespan decreased in the better-nourished, white, female diabetic population.

Conclusions

Rapidly changing UVR at the equinoxes modulates the expression of an epigenome involving the conservation of energy, a mechanism especially canalized in women. Decreasing UVR at conception and early gestation stimulates energy conservation in persons we consider ‘diabetic’ in today’s environment of caloric surfeit. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries ethnic minorities had poorer nutrition, laborious work, and leaner bodies, and in that environment a calorie-conserving epigenome was a survival advantage. Ethnic minorities with a similar epigenome lived long enough to express diabetes as we define it today and exceeded the lifespan of their non-diabetic contemporaries, while that epigenome in diabetics in the nutritional environment of today is detrimental to lifespan.

Keywords:
solar cycles; seasonality; type 2 diabetes; epigenome; UVR; ultraviolet radiation; lifespan; month of conception