The month in which you were born may be linked to what chronic diseases you develop later in life, a new study suggests. While the research, published in the journal Medicina Clínica, does not establish a causality, they do report substantial associations.
The team found that after studying over 29,000 participants, men born in September are three times more like to develop thyroid problems compared to those born in January, while women born in July are 27 percent more likely to develop high blood pressure overall.
“In this study we have evidenced a significant association between the month of birth and the occurrence of various chronic diseases and long-term health problems,” study author Professor Jose Antonio Quesada told The Telegraph. “The patterns reported differed clearly by sex, presenting associations of the month of birth with more diseases and with more magnitude in men than in women.”
They also found that for men born in June, their risk of suffering from depression was 34 percent lower, while women born in the same month were 33 percent less likely to develop migraines.
This is by far not the first study to see if there are any associations between when a person is born and what health conditions they may or may not develop as they age. From Crohn’s disease to brain tumors to schizophrenia, there have been a plethora of publications seemingly finding these links.
While it might just be an example of the age-old correlation does not imply causation, with the authors noting that “this paper is not intended to establish a causality,” there have been some attempts to explain it. There may well be seasonal factors, for example, that could influence things, particularly when the child is developing in the womb. Exposure to certain antigens (such as pollen or viruses) or varying levels of vitamin D have both been suggested as potential factors that may have on influence on future conditions.
It is important to note here that in actuality this latest study, and all others like it, are very limited in what they can tell us. With close to 30,000 participants, it is by no means a limited piece of research, but it does not mean they have been able to prove a link between seasonality and chronic disease.
There are, however, some proven ways to reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases later in life. Maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercise and a balanced diet, for example, will reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes and arthritis. Stopping smoking comes with a whole raft of health benefits, from a reduction in the risk of lung disease to a lowered risk in developing cardiovascular disease.