By: Marc Sorenson, Sunlight Institute–
According to the Centers for Disease Control in May 2011, “about one in 12 people in the United States now has asthma—a total of 24.6 million people and an increase of 4.3 million since 2001.” This is another of those diseases like diabetes that is increasing out of control and shows no sign of abating.
The Scientific American, on April 14, 2011, published an article entitled Why are Asthma Rates soaring? In that article, they lamented the fact that for the last three decades asthma rates have been surging, and that differing theories have arisen as to the reason for the increase, only to be disproven and discarded. Among those theories was the hypothesis that the world has become so “clean” or sterile, that youngsters are not subjected to infectious organisms and thereby do not develop strong immune systems capable of fighting off pollens, dust, etc. To me, that seemed like a rather lame hypothesis, and the article indicates that the idea is no longer in vogue. Another theory was that those who had allergic reactions to various environmental pollutants had weaknesses that predisposed them to asthma. Both of these ideas have failed the test of truth; neither allergy nor early-life “cleanliness” leads to an increase in asthma. The latest theory to surface is that the pandemic of obesity is to blame, because it causes inflammation throughout the body. However, there are many obese people who are not asthmatics.
Newer research has the answer. In Qatar, researchers measured serum vitamin D levels in asthmatic children and compared those levels to levels of healthy non-asthmatic controls. Deficiency was defined as having levels below 20 ng/ml. Many other possible factors were also measured, such as nutritional practices, and various serum measurements such as calcium, phosphorus, alkaline phosphatase, magnesium, creatinine and Parathyroid hormone.
The results were these: asthmatic children had less exposure to sunlight (67%) and less physical activity (71.3%). Vitamin D deficiency was by far the strongest predictor of asthma; those who had the lowest vitamin D levels were nearly five-times more likely to have asthma.
The Scientific American’s editors must not to know that many scientists other than the aforementioned have suggested that vitamin D deficiency, caused by lack sunlight, leads to asthma. Much of the research was done before they published their article.
Researchers in Boston have hypothesized that the decrease in sunlight exposure and resultant vitamin D deficiency is responsible for the asthma epidemic. Others show the same facts: the increase in asthma has paralleled the decline in sunlight exposure, and asthma risk is 40% lower in children of women who have the highest vitamin D consumption during pregnancy.
A scientific experiment from Australia also demonstrated that when asthmatic mice were exposed to ultraviolet light, before being exposed to an asthma-causing allergen, asthma symptoms were reduced. Finally, another study from Spain showed that children exposed to the most sunlight have much lower risks of asthma. To me, it is amazing that the article in Scientific American never even mentioned the possibility of asthma being caused by deficiency of vitamin D brought on by lack of sunlight. Now that this latest research is in, It is my hope that they will correct the mistake and use their considerable prestige to promulgate the vitamin D/sunlight/asthma connection. It is time to return to the sun.
 Vital Signs: Asthma Prevalence, Disease characteristics, and self-Management education—United States, 2001-2009. MMWR 2011;60(17):547-552
 Bener A, Ehlayel MS, Tulic MK, Hamid Q. Vitamin D deficiency as a strong predictor of asthma in children. Int Arch Allergy Immunol 2012;157(2):168-75.
 Devereux, G. et al. Maternal vitamin D intake and early childhood wheezing. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;85:853-59
 Camargo, C. et al. Maternal intake of vitamin D during pregnancy and risk of recurrent wheeze in children at 3 y. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;85:788-95.
 Hart, P. et al. Sunlight may protect against asthma. Perth (Australia) Telethon institute for child health research. Quoted in Australian AP Oct 24, 2006.
 Arnedo-Pena, A et al. Sunny hours and variations in the prevalence of asthma in schoolchildren according to the International Study of Asthma and Allergies (ISAAC) Phase III in Spain. Int J Biometeorol 2011;55:423-434.
By: Marc Sorenson, Sunlight Institute–
Earlier this year I published, with the assistance of Dr. William B Grant, a paper entitled “Does Vitamin D Deficiency Contribute to Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?”[i] In that paper, we made the point that low levels of vitamin D correlated to increased risk of cardiovascular diseases including heart attacks, strokes and heart failure. For example, Giovannucci and colleagues showed that men with the lowest levels of serum vitamin D had a 2.4-times-increased risk of heart attack.[ii] ED is often an important indicator of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and a powerful early marker for asymptomatic CVD.Erection is a vascular event, and ED is often a vascular disease caused by endothelial damage and subsequent inhibition of vasodilation—the expansion of arterial width that is necessary for optimal blood flow throughout the body, including the penis.
One of the interesting findings of the literature search was the fact that sunlight stimulates vasodilation through a mechanism that has nothing to do with vitamin D. That mechanism is the production of nitric oxide (NO) by exposure to another spectrum of light, the non-vitamin-D-producing light called UVA. (NO is a well-known, potent vasodilator). Whole-body irradiation with UVA has been shown to lower blood pressure by stimulating NO production in the skin, which then significantly lowers blood pressure. These increased NO levels are accompanied by increased vasodilation and blood flow in the brachial artery.[iii] It is likely that such vasodilation may also enhance sexual function in men by increasing vasodilation and blood flow in the penile arteries, thereby reducing ED. If sunlight exposure causes vasodilation that lowers blood pressure, there is no reason to doubt that it would be a tremendous asset to men with ED. Both sunlight and tanning beds produce high quantities of UVA light. Perhaps research should be conducted to see whether Cialis or UVA exposure would cause the quickest relief of the ED condition. 🙂
One of our guests at our health resort (National Institute of Health and Fitness, http://www.nihf.com/ spent four weeks with us and sunbathed almost every day. His blood pressure decreased from 159/97 to 125/54 and leveled off at 115/70 when he returned home. I believe that the UVA light in the sunlight, and the subsequent production of NO, was greatly responsible for his blood pressure normalization. Now, I’m curious about his love life but probably won’t discuss it with him unless he volunteers!
At our health resort, we consider safe sun an integral part of our program. Call me at 888-798-6443 if you’d like to discuss this and other health benefits such as weight loss and reversal of diabetes.
[i] Sorenson M, Grant WB. Does vitamin D deficiency contribute to erectile dysfunction? Dermato-Endocrinology 4;2:128–136.
[ii] Giovannucci E, Liu Y, Hollis BW, Rimm EB. 25-hydroxy-vitamin D and risk of myocardial infarction in
men. Ann Intern Med 2008; 168: 1174-80.
[iii] Opländer C, Volkmar CM, Paunel-Görgülü A, van Faassen EE, et al. Whole body UVA irradiation lowers systemic blood pressure by release of nitric oxide from intracutaneous photolabile nitric oxide derivates. Circ Res. 2009;105:1031–40.
Bridget Krutzik, a natural health consultant, has written a nice article on sunlight and melanoma, providing evidence that increased sulight correlates to a lesser risk of melanoma. Bridget has other posts that discuss the vegan diet and other health enhancing habits that I heartily endorse. I hope to read her posts often.
In this excellent article by Laura Shults there is a great discussion of how responsible sunbathing, combined with proper nutrition, does not harm the skin and reduces the risk of many diseases and disorders. Great job, Laura
Stroke is the fourth-leading cause of death and the number-one cause of disability. This research demonstrates that among people who have lower amounts of sunlight exposure, there is a 60% increase in the risk of stroke. The question then arises: Why are the dermatologists still trying to scare us out of the sunlight?