A Historical Correlation Between Solar Activity at Birth and Consequent Life Expectancy

It has been suggested that greater levels of solar radiation may reduce life expectancy by raising the likelihood of damage during embryonic and later development, and researchers have in the past mined historical data in search of correlations. At this point discussion of possible mechanisms is still quite speculative, however. Here is another example of this line of research:

Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) can suppress essential molecular and cellular mechanisms during early development in living organisms and variations in solar activity during early development may thus influence their health and reproduction. Although the ultimate consequences of UVR on aquatic organisms in early life are well known, similar studies on terrestrial vertebrates, including humans, have remained limited.

Using data on temporal variation in sunspot numbers and individual-based demographic data (N = 8662 births) from Norway between 1676 and 1878, while controlling for maternal effects, socioeconomic status, cohort and ecology, we show that solar activity (total solar irradiance) at birth decreased the probability of survival to adulthood for both men and women. On average, the lifespans of individuals born in a solar maximum period were 5.2 years shorter than those born in a solar minimum period. In addition, fertility and lifetime reproductive success (LRS) were reduced among low-status women born in years with high solar activity. The proximate explanation for the relationship between solar activity and infant mortality may be an effect of folate degradation during pregnancy caused by UVR. Our results suggest that solar activity at birth may have consequences for human lifetime performance both within and between generations.

Link: http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/282/1801/20142032

Comments

I detect a whiff of "Pirates and global warming" about this whole thing. Would somebody like to actually try a mouse model here?

Posted by: Slicer at January 7th, 2015 1:13 PM

I do not have a high opinion of this study

Posted by: JohnD at January 8th, 2015 2:16 PM

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