August 22nd, 2011
By: Amanda Gardner
The higher a person’s vitamin D levels, the higher the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, finds new research.
But the study, appearing in the Aug. 15 issue of the Archives of Dermatology, stops short of saying that high vitamin D levels might actually cause these types of cancer, the most common malignancies in the United States.
And because ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure is necessary for vitamin D production in the body, it might simply mean that people with more sun exposure tend to develop more non-melanoma skin cancers. It’s unclear whether it’s the damage from UV rays that accounts for the risk, or rising vitamin D levels that accompany exposure to the rays.
“This adds to the murky water [surrounding the relationship between vitamin D and skin cancer],” said Dr. Vijay Trisal, assistant professor of surgical oncology at City of Hope Cancer Center in Duarte, Calif. “Is it vitamin D or sun exposure? The two go hand-in-hand.”
Other scientists have investigated a possible relationship between vitamin D and skin cancer, but so far the results have been limited and conflicting.
One study suggested that higher vitamin D levels might actually protect against skin cancer. This could be because vitamin D may inhibit a pathway involved in cancer, said Dr. Melody Eide, a dermatologist with Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, and lead author of the current study.
But two other studies had results suggesting the opposite.
Eide and colleagues based their findings on 3,223 mostly female, white patients in a Detroit health maintenance organization who had visited a doctor either because they had osteoporosis or low bone density.
Many more patients (2,257) had too-low levels of vitamin D than had adequate levels (966).
Over a follow-up period of almost 10 years, 163 participants developed basal cell carcinoma, 49 developed squamous cell carcinoma, and 28 developed both.
Those with vitamin D levels above a certain threshold had a 70 percent greater risk of developing one of these cancers. (That threshold was 15 nanograms per milliliter; people with less than that were considered deficient in vitamin D.)
People with higher vitamin D levels also tended to develop their skin cancer on parts of the body not typically exposed to sunlight, like the arms and legs, but that finding was not statistically significant, the researchers reported.
At this research stage, it’s difficult to untangle the possible mechanisms behind this.
“It’s a triangular relationship between UV light with the production of Vitamin D and the induction of skin cancer,” Eide said. “That makes it difficult to know.”
The study didn’t take into account lifetime sun exposure, family history of skin cancer, vitamin D supplementation, exercise, smoking or several other factors that might have influenced the outcome of the study. In addition, the study authors noted that it was “highly likely” that the participants’ exposure to sunlight might have skewed the results.
“We need some measure of lifetime cumulative UV exposure, which is very difficult to measure,” Eide said. “We tend to move around a lot; people go on vacations. There could be critical windows during our life.”
August 16th, 2011
The Raw Story
By: Agence France-Presse
Coffee has been shown to reduce the risk of skin cancer by helping kill off damaged cells that could otherwise turn into tumors, according to a US study published on Monday.
The findings indicate that moderate caffeine drinking, or perhaps even applying coffee to the skin, could be useful in warding off non-melanoma cancer, the most commonly diagnosed of all skin cancers.
Using mice that had been genetically altered to suppress a protein called ATR, researchers showed that the mice were able to fend off cancer even when exposed to ultraviolet light.
Previous studies have suggested that drinking a cup of caffeinated coffee per day has the effect of suppressing ATR and triggering the die-off of cells harmed by UV rays.
The altered mice eventually did develop cancer, but three weeks later than normal mice.
After 19 weeks of ultraviolet light exposure, the engineered mice showed 69 percent fewer tumors and four times fewer invasive tumors than the control group.
However, the protective effects only went so far. After 34 weeks of UV exposure, all the mice developed tumors.
“Eventually, if you treat them long enough, the mice will develop cancer so it is not 100 percent protection forever,” Allan Coffey, one of the study’s authors, told AFP.
“Really, with almost any carcinogen, eventually all the animals will develop tumors.”
Coffey and his team were able to confirm their hypothesis that caffeine — when consumed or applied to the skin — works by inhibiting ATR. Now they say more studies are needed to see how it may work on humans.
“We want to see whether caffeine has an effect in people when you give it topically,” he said.
Skin cancer is the most prevalent cancer in the United States, with more than one million new cases each year, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Non-melanoma types of skin cancer, including basal cell and squamous cell types, are the most commonly diagnosed and are often treatable if detected early.
June 27th, 2011
By: Andrew Schneider
Almost half of the 500 most popular sunscreen products may actually increase the speed at which malignant cells develop and spread skin cancer because they contain vitamin A or its derivatives, according to an evaluation of those products released today.
AOL News also has learned through documents and interviews that the Food and Drug Administration has known of the potential danger for as long as a decade without alerting the public, which the FDA denies.
The study was released with Memorial Day weekend approaching. Store shelves throughout the country are already crammed with tubes, jars, bottles and spray cans of sunscreen.
The white goop, creams and ointments might prevent sunburn. But don’t count on them to keep the ultraviolet light from destroying your skin cells and causing tumors and lesions, according to researchers at Environmental Working Group.
In their annual report to consumers on sunscreen, they say that only 39 of the 500 products they examined were considered safe and effective to use.
The report cites these problems with bogus sun protection factor (SPF) numbers:
- The use of the hormone-disrupting chemical oxybenzone, which penetrates the skin and enters the bloodstream.
- Overstated claims about performance.
- The lack of needed regulations and oversight by the Food and Drug Administration.
But the most alarming disclosure in this year’s report is the finding that vitamin A and its derivatives, retinol and retinyl palmitate, may speed up the cancer that sunscreen is used to prevent.
A dangerous additive
The industry includes vitamin A in its sunscreen formulations because it is an anti-oxidant that slows skin aging.
But the EWG researchers found the initial findings of an FDA study of vitamin A’s photocarcinogenic properties, meaning the possibility that it results in cancerous tumors when used on skin exposed to sunlight.
“In that yearlong study, tumors and lesions developed up to 21 percent faster in lab animals coated in a vitamin A-laced cream than animals treated with a vitamin-free cream,” the report said.
The conclusion came from EWG’s analysis of initial findings released last fall by the FDA and the National Toxicology Program, the federal government’s principle evaluator of substances that raise public health concerns.
EWG’s conclusions were subsequently scrutinized by outside toxicologists.
Based on the strength of the findings by FDA’s own scientists, many in the public health community say they can’t believe nor understand why the agency hasn’t already notified the public of the possible danger.
“There was enough evidence 10 years ago for FDA to caution consumers against the use of vitamin A in sunscreens,” Jane Houlihan, EWG’s senior vice president for research, told AOL News.
“FDA launched this one-year study, completed their research and now 10 years later, they say nothing about it, just silence.”
On Friday, the FDA said the allegations are not true.
“We have thoroughly checked and are not aware of any studies,” an FDA spokesperson told AOL News. She said she checked with bosses throughout the agency and found no one who knew of the vitamin A sunscreen research being done by or on behalf of the agency.
But documents from the FDA and the National Toxicology Program showed that the agency had done the research.
“Retinyl palmitate was selected by (FDA’s) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition for photo-toxicity and photocarcinogenicity testing based on the increasingly widespread use of this compound in cosmetic retail products for use on sun-exposed skin,” said an October 2000 report by the National Toxicology Program.
FDA’s own website said the animal studies were done at its National Center for Toxicological Research in Jefferson, Ark. And it was scientists from the FDA center and National Toxicology Program who posted the study data last fall.
In a perfect world
The ideal sunscreen would completely block the UV rays that cause sunburn, immune suppression and damaging free radicals. It would remain effective on the skin for several hours and not form harmful ingredients when degraded by UV light, the report said.
But in the U.S., there is currently no sunscreen that meets all of these criteria. European countries have more chemical combinations to offer, but in the U.S. the major choice is between the “chemical” sunscreens, which have inferior stability, penetrate the skin and may disrupt the body’s hormone systems, and “mineral” sunscreens zinc and titanium dioxide.
Increasingly, as AOL News reported in March, the industry is using titanium dioxide that is made nanosized, which a growing number of researchers believe have serious health implications.
The sunscreen industry cringes when EWG releases its yearly report — this is its fourth. The industry charges that the advocacy group wants to do away with all sunscreen products, a claim that is not accurate.
The report’s researchers clearly say that an effective sunscreen prevents more damage than it causes, but it wants consumers to have accurate information on the limitations of what they buy and on the potentially harmful chemicals in some of those products.
EWG does warn consumers not to depend on any sunscreen for primary protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Hats, clothing and shade are still the most reliable sun protection available, they say.
Don’t count on the numbers
Some of us are old enough to remember when the idea of having a tan was good, a sign of health, when billboards and magazine ads featured the Coppertone girl showing off her tan when a puppy pulls down her bathing suit bottom.
Going for that tan, we coated our kids and ourselves with sun blockers with sun protection factors of 1 or 2. Some overly cautious parents might have smeared on a 4 during the hottest part of a day.
But we’ve learned of the dangers that come from exposure to the sun’s rays, especially ultraviolet A and B. So today, drugstore shelves are crammed with sunscreens boasting SPFs of 30, 45, 80 or even higher.
However, the new report says those numbers are often meaningless and dangerous because products with high SPF ratings sell a false sense of security, encouraging people using them to stay out in the sun longer.
“People don’t get the high SPF they pay for,” the report says. “People apply about a quarter of the recommended amount. So in everyday practice, a product labeled SPF 100 really performs like SPF 3.2, an SPF 30 rating equates to a 2.3 and an SPF 15 translates to 2.”
In 2007, the report says, the FDA published proposed regulations that would prohibit manufacturers from labeling sunscreens with an SPF higher than “SPF 50.” The agency wrote that higher values would be “inherently misleading,” given that “there is no assurance that the specific values themselves are in fact truthful.”
This is being widely ignored by the sunscreen makers who are heavily advertising their 80, 90 and 100 SPF products.
“Flouting FDA’s proposed regulation,” companies substantially increased their high-SPF offerings in 2010 with one in six brands now listing SPF values higher than 50. “Neutrogena and Banana Boat stand out among the offenders, with six and four products labeled as ‘SPF 100,’ respectively,” the new report says.
The full list of the best and worst sunscreens can be found on the EWG’s searchable database. (Update: The database has been loading slowly today. You may want to try it again later.)
April 11th, 2011
By: Grace Gold
When we first covered the controversy surrounding model Gisele Bündchen’s use of the word “poison” to describe sunscreen (a term her publicist later refuted as an incorrect translation), StyleList was inundated with reader comments that surprisingly shared a similar suspicion about the safety of chemicals in common sunscreens.
Combine that with the results of a study published last year that sparked fears of a cancerous relationship between a form of vitamin A found in sunscreen formulations and sun exposure, and it’s no wonder people are concerned.
That got us thinking: Is there such a thing as natural sunscreen? Why do brands even use chemicals to begin with, and should consumers be wary of any of them? And what is the status on the Food and Drug Administration’s investigation into the retinyl palmitate scare?
As far as natural sunscreens go, there is disagreement between the medical and holistic communities about what constitutes the word “natural.”
On one hand, American Board of Dermatology President Dr. Robert T. Brodell says there is no such thing as a natural sunscreen.
“None of the products that protect the skin significantly would be considered ‘natural,’” Brodell tells StyleList. “The closest thing would be ‘chemical-free’ sunscreens. The white paste you see on a lifeguard’s nose in the summer is zinc oxide… the classic example,” adds the Ohio dermatologist.
Defined as an “inorganic compound” because it’s formed by chemical bonds that lack a carbon molecule, zinc oxide, and its common cousin titanium dioxide, are earth minerals often found as a physical block in sunscreen. Dermatologists consider both compounds to be safely proven ways of blocking both harmful UVA and UVB sunrays.
Yet organic expert and “The Green Beauty Guide” author Julie Gabriel, says that she is willing to consider an element like zinc oxide as natural, since it’s a mineral.
“The absence of a natural sunscreen is a fairy tale of the conventional beauty industry. I’ve been using a basic handmade blend of beeswax, calendula oil, zinc oxide, green tea and vitamin E during my ski weekends in very high altitudes of 2,500 meters in Davos, Switzerland,” Gabriel tells StyleList.
“I’ve had no sun damage, no tan, no marks, nothing,” says Gabriel, who adds that she came up with the concoction by mixing a zinc oxide-containing diaper balm with the marigold-colored calendula plant to add a glowy finish.
If making your own blend, Gabriel recommends purchasing zinc oxide from either Ingredients to Die For or Texas Natural Supply. The organic expert says she has worked with both retailers, and considers them top, trustworthy sources.
With such nonirritating, noncontroversial sunblocks available, one wonders why brands even go the route of chemical blends. Experts say it’s primarily because consumers find that physical blocks can feel heavy, smell strongly, and cast an unnatural pale tint to skin, especially on deeper skin tones.
“Because zinc oxide and titanium dioxide sit on the skin’s surface without being absorbed, they are nonirritating and nonallergenic. But this is also the reason why natural sunscreens require a lot more rubbing in, and advance application time to bind with the skin to be effective,” says New York State Society for Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery President, Dr. David Bank.
Some brands turn to chemicals for lighter and seemingly more elegant formulas, which protect skin by first interacting with UV light, and then undergoing a chemical reaction that blocks out dangerous sunrays.
These chemicals are often of the multisyllabic, impossible-to-pronounce variety, with common examples being avobenzone, benzophenonone, triethanolamine, and the easier to say, though no less mired in controversy, ingredient of PABA.
Mexoryl, which enjoyed a highly anticipated debut on the US market after tremendous success in Europe, is gaining recognition as a favored chemical sunscreen. Experts attribute the ingredient’s popularity to its light, easily absorbed texture, nearly non-existent scent and superior block of both UVA and UVB rays.
The newest chemical sunscreens that are currently pending FDA approval are Tinosorb S and Tinosorb M, which offer a trio of powerful actions, including absorbing, reflecting and scattering ultraviolet rays. They’re both very naturally stable, which makes for a more dependable and long-lasting application, shares Bank.
And that means greater protection against the signs of aging.
“These products (chemical ingredients) also protect against the long-term problems associated with sun exposure, including wrinkling, brown spots, yellowing and thickening of the skin, precancers and skin cancers. The weight of the evidence strongly favors routine use of sunscreens, whether chemical or physical,” Brodell strongly advises.
However, it’s what happens during the chemical transformation phase that causes some to speculate on the overall safety of the active ingredients. It’s here where the heart of the chemical sunscreen controversy exists.
“Triethanolamine has been identified as an active in promoting the release of free radicals in our bodies once the UVA and UVB radiations saturate our skin,” says Los Angeles dermatologist, Dr. Ava Shamban, author of “Heal Your Skin.”
Free radicals are considered by many in the beauty industry to be volatile molecules that react explosively and cause the kind of tissue damage that leads to aging and disease.
Another concern with chemical sunscreens is the potential for skin sensitivity issues in those who are suspeptible.
“The chemical most responsible for an allergic reaction to sunscreen is oxybenzone, which is also one of the most commonly used chemicals in broad-spectrum sunscreen,” explains Maryland dermatologist, Dr. Noelle Sherber. “I always tell my patients with sensitive skin to avoid it, because it’s the most common culprit of redness, itchiness and bumps.”
But oxybenzone isn’t just a problem for those who have sensitive skin. Bank says it’s an ingredient that has long been questioned for its safety.
“Oxybenzone is of most concern to many scientists. In a study by the Center for Disease Control, it was proven to be absorbed into the blood stream systemically, and excreted in the urine of 97 percent of study participants. More studies are needed to give us a comprehensive understanding of how these chemicals behave in skin cells,” says Bank.
Fortunately, most experts agree that the new technology found in micronized mineral sunscreen is both safer and more enjoyable to apply and wear. These nano particles block rays with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, yet apply less white and with a sheerer finish than their traditional forms. Protection works by bouncing sun radiation waves off skin.
You should especially consider micronized mineral sunscreen for babies and children, says Sherber.
“The amount of surface area compared to body mass is very different between a baby and an adult. Whatever you apply all over a baby’s skin will be absorbed more, because they have so much more skin than body mass. For example, a topical eczema-treatment cream can be given to adults without a problem, but the active ingredients are absorbed at such a high rate by children, that it can actually stunt their growth,” says Sherber.
While the collective consensus between the natural and dermatology worlds seems to skew toward physical blocks, the debate on the safety of retinyl palmitate in sunscreen has moved little since the Environmental Working Group raised concerns this past year over an FDA study that showed an increase in cancer cells of mice exposed to sunlight while wearing a retinyl palmitate-containing cream.
“Retinols and retinoids in general have been a nighttime preparation, as it makes the skin sun sensitive. Some manufacturers believed that since retinols are antioxidants, then adding them to sunscreen would be beneficial,” explains Bank.
However, the study in question surprised experts when it was shown that vitamin A could possibly turn photocarcinogenic under sunrays.
Yet evidence pointing to retinyl palmitate as a cause of cancer remains unproven, as the original study examined the form of vitamin A in plain skin cream, not sunscreen. Further review by the FDA this winter shed no additional light on the situation.
Sherber cautions against jumping to conclusions when other mitigating factors may have colored the results of the study.
“The possibility that the shininess of the cream could have magnified their UV exposure — like putting on old-school baby oil in the sun — is one of several potential confounders,” says Sherber.
“It’s also important to note that the mice used in NTP (National Toxology Program) studies are highly susceptible to UV radiation. They can get skin cancer within weeks of UV exposure. While this makes studies of skin cancer in these mice feasible because they can show effects within weeks rather than years of UV exposure, we have to be very careful not to assume that these mice respond to UV or other skin-directed treatments in the same way that humans do,” adds Sherber.
Experts also caution consumers that just because a substance may be naturally derived, that doesn’t mean it’s automatically safe.
“The FDA looks at vitamins and minerals in a less stringent way than other drugs, so I am always nervous about the safety of such products,” admits Brodell. Citing that the study was done on mice, and never with sunscreen, Brodell adds, “I do not worry, for myself or my family, about retinyl palmitate, but reserve the right to change my mind if more information would become available.”
March 1st, 2011
By: Deborah Huso
Researchers now say higher levels of vitamin D may be necessary to reduce one’s risk of cancer. Scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha just published a new study in the journal Anticancer Research, noting that traditional intakes of the essential vitamin just aren’t enough to reach blood levels that can prevent or significantly decrease the risk of breast cancer and several other major diseases.
“We found that daily intakes of vitamin D by adults in the range of 4,000 to 8,000 IU [international units] are needed to maintain blood levels of vitamin D metabolites in the range needed to reduce by about half the risk of several diseases — breast cancer, colon cancer, multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes,” said Dr. Cedric Garland, professor of family and preventive medicine at the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, in a press release. “I was surprised to find that the intakes required to maintain vitamin D status for disease prevention were so high — much higher than the minimal intake of vitamin D of 400 IU per day that was needed to defeat rickets in the 20th century.”
During the study, researchers surveyed several thousand volunteers who were taking vitamin D supplements with a dosage ranging from 1,000 to 10,000 IU per day. They found those taking the highest amounts of vitamin D were less likely to contract major diseases such as cancer.
Despite these findings, some doctors say just boosting your vitamin D levels aren’t enough for disease prevention and in some cases may be dangerous.
Dr. James Spencer, a dermatologist and American Academy of Dermatology board member, says the levels of vitamin D suggested in the study are way too high and that reducing the risk of cancer is not as easy as eating more oranges or taking more vitamin supplements. “Generally, when things are too good to be true, they usually are,” Spencer told AOL Health.
Dr. Sophie Balk, attending pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in New York City agrees. “We know that vitamin D is good for muscle health and osteoporosis — the research shows that,” Balk explained to AOL Health. “But the research isn’t conclusive about its effects on cancers. We really need more research about these other possible effects because we really can’t say for sure.”
Both doctors agree the dosage of 4,000 to 8,000 IU could be dangerous. “If you take that amount, over time it could be toxic,” warns Balk.
“Very high levels of vitamin D, usually above 10,000 [IUs] per day, are known to cause kidney and tissue damage,” adds Spencer.
To get sufficient amounts, but not too much vitamin D, Spencer recommends including salmon, milk, oranges or orange juice, egg yolk and mushrooms in your diet.
Although the sun and its UV rays are the best source of vitamin D, Spencer says there are other harmful results that can stem from too much sunshine, like skin cancer, and doesn’t recommend people seek vitamin D through sunbathing.
Balk recommends 400 IU per day of vitamin D for children and adolescents, while Spencer says the recommended dosage for adults is 600 IU per day and 800 IU per day for adults over 70 years old.
December 27th, 2010
By: Jonathan Benson
Seven U.K. health organizations, including Cancer Research U.K. and the National Osteoporosis Society, recently made a joint announcement that the population needs to get more sun. Reversing decades of warnings about the supposed dangers of sun exposure, the groups now cooperatively agree that humans need regular sun exposure without sunscreen in order to maintain adequate blood levels of vitamin D.
Government warnings about the sun have kept millions of people out of it, or at least lathered in chemical-ridden sunscreens that block the necessary vitamin D-producing ultraviolet (UV) rays from penetrating the skin. But myriads of research brought forth over the past several years has bucked the misnomer that the sun is dangerous, showing instead that it is necessary to maintain health.
“Some of the messages about sun exposure have been too negative,” explained Professor Rona Mackie, from the British Association of Dermatologists, to BBC News. “[W]e’re now saying that exposure of ten to 15 minutes … without suncream, several times a week is probably a safe balance between adequate vitamin D levels and any risk of skin cancer.”
Vitamin D deficiency is linked to numerous diseases including osteoporosis, heart disease, autism, diabetes, muscle degradation and cancer. Most people in the industrialized world, and now even in the developing world, are deficient because they spend very little time outdoors in natural sunlight. And when they do, many use copious amounts of sunscreen.
Studies have found that roughly 70 percent of whites and 97 percent of blacks are woefully deficient in vitamin D. And even though vitamin D prevents 77 percent of all cancers, U.S. health authorities have been slow to recommend that Americans up their vitamin D intake.
November 17th, 2010
By: Jonathan Benson
Russian health authorities recently demonstrated that they hold a much different opinion on the safety and effectiveness of tanning beds than do American health authorities. According to a recent BBC report, a Russian prison will soon be outfitted with various health-promoting amenities, including tanning beds, which officials say will help revamp the nation’s reputation for having poor quality prison facilities.
“We are developing additional medical services … and even sunbeds will be put in place,” explained Sergei Telyatnikov, the head of Moscow’s Butyrka remand prison, to a local Moscow radio station. Russian officials say the tanning beds will help improve prisoner health.
American and European medical officials have largely taken the offensive against tanning beds, warning the public that they supposedly cause skin cancer. But contradictory research continues to show that when used properly, tanning beds actually exhibit an anti-cancer effect on the body, as they expose it to vitamin D-creating ultraviolet (UV) rays just like those given off naturally by the sun.
So while many Americans continue to run and hide from the sun and tanning beds out of fear of getting skin cancer, Russian prisoners will be getting their daily dose of healthy vitamin D through the regular use of tanning beds. In fact, using tanning beds safely actually helps to prevent skin cancers.
“The benefits are that tanning can normalize vitamin D levels, and normal vitamin D levels reduce your risk of all cancers, including melanoma,” explain James Dowd and Diane Stafford in their book, The Vitamin D Cure. “Judicious use of artificial UV light is used to treat some skin diseases, and it can help prevent sunburns.”
November 2nd, 2010
By: Ethan A. Huff
Numerous studies have linked vitamin D deficiency to practically every known malady in the world today — heart disease, chronic inflammation, arthritis, psoriasis, depression, influenza, asthma, allergies, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, autism, and even cancer. And even though many doctors still do not test vitamin D levels or prescribe vitamin D supplements to their patients, sales of the vitamin continue to skyrocket.
According to data published in the Nutrition Business Journal, overall sales of vitamin D in 2009 totaled roughly $425 million, which is ten times the amount spent on it in 2001. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin D has not been revised to reflect the plethora of new research on vitamin D, but that has not stopped millions of informed individuals from taking daily dosages far higher than these levels right now — and improving their health in the process.
According to reports, around 90 percent of Americans are vitamin D-deficient. The vitamin, which is actually a hormone, is produced in the skin naturally when it is exposed to natural sunlight. But many Americans hardly get any natural sunlight exposure, and when they do, they typically lather up in sunscreens that block the ultraviolet (UV) rays responsible for vitamin D production.
“We have this vast experiment going on,” explained Carol L. Wagner, a neonatologist at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, in reference to widespread vitamin D deficiency. “We are looking at the rampant vitamin D deficiency throughout the country.”
Wagner disagrees with the false notion propagated by some scientists who insist that people avoid supplementing with vitamin D until a supposed safe dosage amount is determined. In reality, vitamin D is extremely difficult to “overdose” on, and the damage caused by not supplementing with it is far worse than any supposed damage from taking too much.
July 22, 2010
By: Jonathan Benson
Exposure to sunlight, we are often told, is dangerous and can lead to melanoma, also known as skin cancer. But a group of U.K. researchers recently published a report in the British Journal of Dermatology decrying the scare campaigns put out by government and cancer societies that warn against the supposed dangers of sun exposure. Contrary to popular belief, sun exposure can actually decrease the likelihood of developing malignant melanomas.
Sam Shuster, one of the study researchers, and his colleagues are tired of hearing about the 84,000 “skin cancers” that appear each year from sun exposure, because almost all of them are harmless. Malignant melanomas are simply not caused by sun exposure, despite what the “experts” claim. In reality, malignant melanomas tend to shrink back from sun exposure, as do many other harmful cancers in the body.
But the myth that the sun causes malignant cancers continues to persist, even though it is patently false. Excess sun exposure, especially if you lack proper nutrients and fail to let your body grow accustomed to the sun, can cause harmful sunburns. But gradually and regularly exposing your skin to the sun without burning it will only help you, not hurt you.
According to the report, the reason why harmless sun melanomas have been classified as malignant ones is due to a “diagnostic drift which classifies benign lesions as … melanomas, [which is] driven by defensive medicine, an unsurprising response to its commercialization.”
The UV rays from sunlight are necessary for the body to produce vitamin D, maintain bone health and prevent disease. Sunscreen blocks these essential rays from penetrating your skin. So getting your body used to sun exposure apart from sunscreen is the best way to obtain the sun’s many health benefits.
August 10, 2009
By David Gutierrez
Sufficient vitamin D intake may play a critical role in maintaining brain function later in life, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Manchester and published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.
“This is further evidence from observational studies that vitamin D is likely to be beneficial to reduce many age-related diseases,” said Tim Spector of King’s College London, who was not involved in the study. “Taken together with similar data that shows its importance in reducing arthritis, osteoporotic fractures, as well as heart disease and some cancers, this underscores the importance of vitamin D for humans and why evolution gave us a liking for the sun.”
Researchers measured blood levels of vitamin D in more than 3,000 European men between the ages of 40 and 79 then had the men undergo various tests of mental function, including memory and information processing. They found that the men with the highest blood levels did best on the test, while those with the lowest levels performed worst.
Another study earlier this year also found that higher levels of vitamin D appeared to protect against age-related cognitive decline.
The researchers were not able to determine which biological pathways vitamin D might act through to protect the aging brain, but they hypothesized that it might increase levels of protective antioxidants, increase key hormone levels, or suppress a hyperactive immune system that can lead to brain degeneration.
The researchers warned that vitamin D deficiency is widespread, especially among the elderly, who have decreased absorption from both food and sun sources.
Vitamin D is synthesized by the body when the sun is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. The average light-skinned person can get enough vitamin D from roughly 15 minutes of sun on their face and hands per day, significantly less than the time it takes to burn. Darker skinned people, the elderly, and those living far from the equator (particularly during the winter) may need more sun to synthesize the same amount.