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Women’s chronic pain linked to Vitamin D deficiency?

By Paul Wallis     Aug 12, 2008 in Health
It doesn’t affect men. Hormonal issues are believed to be the reason, but lack of Vitamin D is now believed to have something to do with chronic pain in women. Statistically a direct correlation between vitamin levels has now been established in tests.
Vitamin D is produced by the body as a result of exposure to sunlight. It’s an essential vitamin, and it’s been studied for decades. However, this association with chronic pain is new. The tests are asking as many questions as they’re answering.
The BBC:
The team from the Institute of Child Health in London said studies were now needed to see if vitamin D supplements can guard against chronic pain.
About one in 10 people are affected by chronic pain at any one time in the UK.
The causes are not well understood and much of the focus to date has been on emotional factors.
…Among the 7,000 men and women aged 45 from across England, Scotland and Wales that they studied, those who were smokers, non-drinkers, the overweight and the underweight all reported higher rates of chronic pain.
It needs to be understood that the possible causes of chronic pain are very variable, and this is a large sample. That makes pinning likely statistical tails on demographic donkeys a lot tougher. One of the major achievements of the study is that it has successfully extracted the information regarding vitamin D from a very diverse group.
I shudder to think, however, what form of logic came up with emotional factors as a cause of chronic pain. Even the most dedicated, neurotic, hypochondriac wouldn’t go to the extent of trying for actual chronic pain. I think most people would say that chronic pain causes some emotional factors.
…Women with vitamin D levels between 75 and 99 mmol/litre - a level deemed necessary for bone health - had the lowest rates of this type of pain, at just over 8%.
Women with levels of less than 25 mmol/litre had the highest rates, at 14.4%.
As you can see, people with what appear to be chronically low levels aren’t proportionately represented relative to vitamin D levels. They have less than a third of the vitamin D, but there’s not three times as many of them.
The relationship with bone health is a strong possible lead. Chronic pain sufferers frequently have bone related conditions. That’s a bit like saying people run over by cars frequently don’t feel too well. In this case, however, poor bone health, chronic pain, and low levels of vitamin D may well have a direct relationship.
It’s not that easy to have a vitamin D deficiency in a modern society. The sun still shines, and even the most fanatical night clubber usually has the ten minutes or so sunlight required to get all the vitamin D they need. It’s also relatively easy to find dietary vitamin D, in eggs, margarine, and “oily fish”.
So, the possible causes of a deficiency may well point to something related to the condition itself.
Is there a condition which causes depletion of vitamin D? Or is there a condition which blocks absorption of vitamin D? Since it only affects women, can an odd hormonal cocktail cause the deficiency, and help set off the chronic pain syndrome?
This test may well be one of the occasional breaks that medical research occasionally gets, where the cause of a condition is identified by data from a study that forces analysis.
Let’s hope it’s something more substantial than “emotional factors".
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