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Are people really healthier in summer?

15 May 2015 11:49

Many people feel better during the summer

Many people feel better during the summer

Most people get a spring in their step and feel a little brighter when the sun shines and the wintry weather gives way to summer. But now research suggests people really may be healthier in the summertime.

Scientists say the findings may explain why conditions such as heart disease, arthritis and diabetes are less likely to be suffered over the summer. People with such conditions can secure peace of mind when taking a holiday by arranging pre-existing travel insurance.

Immune to seasonal change

The team from the University of Cambridge believe this could be down to people's immune systems changing with the seasons. The scientists analysed genes from people living in the UK, US, Australia, Iceland and Gambia.

And they found the level of activity in nearly one in four of the 23,000 tested genes changed depending on the time of year. Some of the genes were more active in the summer months while others were more active during the winter, researchers say.

ARNTL is a gene which, in mice, has been linked with suppressing infections. Researchers say their analysis showed it was more active in the summer months. That, they say, suggests it could play a similar role in people.

Environmental triggers

The scientists say while it is not yet known precisely what causes the seasonal differences they believe these could be triggered by daylight, temperature and other environmental factors.

The Wellcome Trust's head of infection and immunobiology, Professor Mike Turner, has praised the University of Cambridge study, adding that the findings back the widely-held belief that people, in general, tend to be in better health over the summer.