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Sunlight and Drug Interactions

As most people are aware, many medications have side effects that make skin quite sensitive to sunlight. This is referred to as photosensitivity. Photosensitivity is an immunological response that the body has to light. This condition is also commonly called a sun allergy and can occur in both adults and children.

Usually when the skin comes in contact with sunlight it will initially burn and then become red. As a result, people who are subject to photosensitivity experience sunburns, rashes, and redness of the skin more frequently. More serious consequences such as heat stroke can also occur.

Another interaction between sunlight and drugs has recently been discovered by researchers from Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. The Swedish researchers believe that there is a relationship between the time one spends out in the sun and how quickly medication is broken down in the body.

More specifically, medication breaks down in the body faster when one is exposed to more sunlight. The vitamin D gained from exposure to sunlight is responsible for these results. When vitamin D levels are high, drug levels are low. The researcher then compared data found in the summer with that of the winter.

From this it was concluded that the drug efficiency varies from season to season. This essentially means that more of a certain medication may be needed during certain parts of the year. This is because when it is warmer the medication is getting used up faster.

This conclusion was made after extensive research. Drug levels were tested constantly. However, all the people used to determine the results were patients who had just had organ transplants. The results were also mainly based on just two drugs. One can only wonder how many drugs are actually affected this way.

However, more research is required to confirm the accuracy of these results.

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-BS Pharm, PharmD, RPh

Dr. Paul Zickler is a graduate of the University of Wester Ontario in 1972. After graduating from the faculty of medicine, Dr. Zickler practiced as an Emergency Physician for 18 years. He has then operated ambulatory medical and travel clinics for 12 years. Dr. Zickler has become an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of British Columbia, a Director of Professional Programs for the Justice Institute of British Columbia (paramedic academy), a principal investigator for Phase 2 and 3 studies researching vaccines, and a founding member of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association. Dr. Zickler is passionate about combining western prescription medicine and natural medicines.

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