By Jeanne D’Brant–
The long, hot summer is here and the sandy beaches of Long Island await our pleasure. An afternoon spent challenging the salt and spray of the south shore or quietly sitting by a north shore beach do more than relax us and put us in touch with nature.
Did you know that the amount of sunlight that you get is a major factor influencing your risk for developing diabetes? Convincing research has shown that the further you live from the equator, the greater your chances are of developing diabetes. In Finland, the risk is elevated 400 times! In 2010, a study in Germany concluded that providing adequate levels of Vitamin D for the German population could save that country a whopping 40 billion in health care costs. The good news for Long Island, by the way, is that we are not at similar latitude to most of Europe. At 41 degrees north, we are on the same latitude above the equator as Istanbul!
Vitamin D is an essential hormone that the body makes when skin is exposed to sunlight. It is created in as little as 15 to 30 minutes, depending on your age, skin color and the time of year. Long known to be essential for calcium absorption and bone health, Vitamin D is now known to play an important role in protecting not only against diabetes but also cancer, tuberculosis, autoimmune diseases and even the common cold. Sunlight on the skin has also been shown to reduce inflammation levels in both healthy people and those afflicted with diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
One way that Vitamin D lowers diabetes risk is by protecting the insulin-making beta cells of the pancreas, dampening inflammatory immune signals and boosting antioxidant protection. When the skin makes vitamin D, it produces antioxidants within it to deactivate the free radicals formed by the sun’s UV radiation. This is a natural defense mechanism, a built in sunscreen. Cells also use vitamin D to directly regulate genes, including longevity genes, making it one of the most powerful compounds known in human health. Fortunately, 20 minutes of whole-body exposure to the sun can produce thousands of IUs of vitamin D, and other compounds called FIRS which have important health benefits. One study of 2100 female twins showed that having adequate vitamin D slowed the aging process, improved chronic stress levels, and extended life by five years.
* The skin of anyone 40 or older has lost much of its ability for vitamin D activation. From the point of view of evolutionary biology, by 40 we’ve pretty much had our opportunity to reproduce and make our contribution to the species: we’ve exhausted our reproductive usefulness. Vitamin D turns on genes such as the SIRT and CLOCK genes associated with longevity. Sunscreens, unfortunately, inhibit 98 percent of vitamin D production. Anticonvulsants, steroids and cholesterol-lowering medications all interfere with vitamin D metabolism. Supplementation is recommended for the aging and those taking these medications. In a very large Finnish study, infants and children who consistently took 2000 IU of vitamin D per day had a 78% reduced risk of type I diabetes.
How can you tell if you have enough Vitamin D? Your doctor can order a simple blood test called 25-OH that will show your level. Levels in the 20s are frighteningly low, numbers above 40 are more desirable, but some researchers think our levels should be 65 or more for maximum impact on the genes. If you choose to supplement, what is the recommended dose? We’ll look at supplementation facts in a future post.
Medical treatment of Vitamin D deficiency involves megadosing (50,000 units or more) once a week for six or more weeks, but many clinical nutritionists consider this strategy ill-advised. Vitamin D is known to increase absorption of heavy metals such as strontium in addition to calcium. A more prudent approach might be supplementing in the colder months and enjoying more time outdoors in the spring and summer. Remember, the human gene pool changes very slowly. While human life emerged 5 to 7 million years ago, we started living indoors less than forty thousand years ago, the blink of an eye in evolutionary terms! Current teens and twenty somethings, who spend a majority of their time indoors, are the first generation since the early 1900s to be shortening their lifespan because of their diabetes-creating lifestyle.
So turn it on in the sun this summer! Move around when outdoors, take a hike on the beach, practice safe sun, and soak up some rays as nature intended. Whether you’re spending the day at Jones Beach or Robert Moses, when the waves and the light are working their magic on you, remember that you’re helping your health in numerous ways. Not only are you allowing the relaxation response, which lowers your blood pressure and quells the raging flow of stress hormones, you are also lowering your risk for the blood sugar disorder which is a leading cause of strokes and heart attacks, the #1 killer of the Americans today.
Now that I have your undivided attention, let’s look at the evidence.
Sperm quality and number is superior in men with high vitamin D levels compared with men who are deficient,[i] and other research shows that FEMALE RATS MATED TO DEFICIENT MALES HAVE 73% FEWER SUCCESSFUL PREGNANCIES THAN THOSE MATED TO VITAMIN D-SUFFICIENT MALES.[ii] The ovaries and testes of rats that lack vitamin D receptors (VDR) do not function properly,[iii] and vitamin D deficiency profoundly reduces sperm production;[iv] but that condition is reversible when vitamin D is optimized,[v]–an important fact—since human sperm also contains VDR.[vi]
Dr. Anne Clark assessed the vitamin D levels of about 800 men who were unable to produce a pregnancy in their wives.[vii] About a third had low D levels. After lifestyle changes and vitamin D supplementation, 40% of the men were able to impregnate their wives.
If vitamin D increases fertility, we would expect conception rates to be higher in summer than in winter—and, so it is. Conception rates are highest in late summer.54 For those who are having difficulty producing a pregnancy, conception may be as simple as a sunny vacation.
And what about sexuality? There is a direct correlation between high D levels and high testosterone levels in men.[viii] Since testosterone is the “love hormone” in both sexes, libido might be increased by sunlight exposure. Also, D supplementation in testosterone-deficient men increases testosterone by 25% in one year.[ix]
This has been known for decades; in 1939, Dr. Myerson measured circulating testosterone in men and exposed their various body parts to UV.[x] AFTER FIVE DAYS OF CHEST EXPOSURE, TESTOSTERONE INCREASED 120%. WHEN GENITALS WERE EXPOSED, TESTOSTERONE INCREASED BY 200%! Considering the current cultural obsession with sex, I’m surprised that no one has followed up on Myerson’s work. The light emitted from tanning beds is the same type of light used by Dr. Myerson. I expect that many people may have a totally new concept of the much-maligned tanning bed if this information is widely promulgated.
[i] Bjerrum, Poul et al. Vitamin D is positively associated with sperm motility and increases intracellular calcium in human spermatozoa. Human Reproduction 2011;26:1307-1317.
[ii] Kwiecinski, G. et al. Vitamin D is necessary for reproductive functions of the male rat. J Nutr 1989;119:741-44.
[iii] Kinuta, K. et al. Vitamin D is an important factor in estrogen biosynthesis in both female and male gonads. Endocrinology 2000;141:1317.
[iv] Sood, S. et al. Effect of vitamin D deficiency on testicular function in the rat. Ann Nutr Metab 1992;36:203-8.
[v] Sood, S. et al. Effect of vitamin D repletion on testicular function in vitamin-D deficient rats. Ann Nutr Metab 1995;95-98
vi] Corbett, S. et al. Vitamin d receptor found in human sperm. Urology 2006;68:1345-49
[vii] Clark, Anne. Fertility Society of Australia conference in Brisbane – paper presented by D. Clark – research was part of a doctoral study by University of Sydney student Laura Thomson. News.com.au Oct 19 2008
[viii] Wehr, E et al. Association of vitamin D status with serum androgen levels in men. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf) 2010;73(2):243-8
[ix] Pilz, S. et al. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men. Horm Metab Res 2011;43(3):223-5
[x] Myerson, A. Influence of ultraviolet radiation on excretion of sex hormones in the male. Endocrinology 1939;25:7-12
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.”
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. Is it time to return to the sun?
Another study shows an asthma reduction of 52-67%. In that study, THREE-YEAR- OLD CHILDREN WHOSE MOTHERS WERE IN THE HIGHEST QUARTILE OF VITAMIN D CONSUMPTION DURING PREGNANCY HAVE A 61% REDUCED RISK OF A “RECURRENT WHEEZE,” A SYMPTOM OF ASTHMA, WHEN COMPARED TO THOSE WHOSE MOTHERS WERE IN THE LOWEST QUARTILE. The researchers believed that inadequate D levels in the fetus leads to improper development of the lungs and immune system, and they demonstrated that each 100-IU increase in vitamin D consumption resulted in a 19% risk reduction.
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. Considering the yearly $700-million expenditure for Australian asthma-treatment, regular sunlight exposure seems a small price to pay. Tanning beds, like the sun, put forth ultraviolet light to produce vitamin D. These researchers were really using tanning beds for mice! Finally, another recent study from Spain has shown that children exposed to the most sunlight have lower risks of asthma.
Steroids are used as an asthma therapy, but in some individuals, asthma is resistant to steroids. However, when vitamin D3 is added to the steroid treatment, symptoms are greatly reduced. Perhaps sufficient supplementation or sunlight exposure could eliminate steroid need completely. This is the bottom line: children and adults are meant to play outdoors or otherwise be exposed to non-burning ultraviolet B (UVB) light—the most natural way to produce vitamin D. Every child should have a natural life playing outdoors, and both children and adults should regularly have sunlight exposure. It is critical for human health. What a travesty to deprive our children of healthy, normal lives because the Powers of Darkness need to make money selling sunscreens. Be careful not to burn, and enjoy the sun!
Vital Signs: Asthma Prevalence, Disease Characteristics, and Self-Management Education — United States, 2001–2009 MMWR, 2011; 60(17);547-552
Litonjua, A. et al. Is vitamin D deficiency to blame for the asthma epidemic? J Allergy Clin Immunol 2007;120:1031-35
 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.
 Devereux, G. et al. Maternal vitamin D intake and early childhood wheezing. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;85:853-59
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.
Xystrakis, E. et al. Treatment of Steroid-Resistant Asthma. J Clin Invest 2006;116:146-55
By Dr Singh (Meerut)–
A study has found that vitamin D, which is produced by the body when exposed to the sun, boosts the quality of sperm in men.
They become better at swimming towards the egg, have greater speed and are more penetrative.
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen tested the quality of sperm from 340 men and found that almost half had an insufficient amount – linked to lack of exposure to natural sunlight or time in a solarium.
“Vitamin D levels were positively associated with sperm motility, suggesting a role for vitamin D in human sperm function,” the Daily Mail quoted Dr Martin Blomberg Jensen as saying.
1. Those admitted to the Waikato, New Zealand hospital with severe vitamin D deficiency were more likely to die within a month compared to those who had normal or only slightly low levels.
2. The overall death rate was 29% for those with severe D deficiency, and only 4% for those with higher levels. This could indicate that vitamin D deficiency causes a 700% increase in the risk of death by pneumonia. Follow this link to read more about the research: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/health/2011-05/13/c_13873372.htm
The authors noted that sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, and that winters in Hamilton, New Zealand area, like most temperate areas of the world, do not allow sufficient sunlight to stimulate vitamin D production. They also state that pneumonia is the single largest cause of death in children worldwide, killing about 1.6 million children under the age of five each year.
What a horror that so many countries, by means of their health departments and dermatological societies, are frightening children and their parents away from the sunlight during the seasons of the year when it is available. This ensures that vitamin D deficiency will ensue in winter. Also, at the very least, supplementation of vitamin D3 should be recommended during winter—supplementation of about 1,000 IU for every 25 pounds of bodyweight.
This is not the first time the relationship between pneumonia and sunlight has been observed. In 2003, Dr. Dowell and his colleagues showed that the disease is seasonal, with the lowest rates in summer, an increase in fall and a peak in winter. This relationship exactly mimics the quantity of sunlight exposure available in different seasons. Other research has pointed out the same relationship, and still other studies have shown the importance of vitamin D in prevention of pneumonia and related infections to it,
A popular fitness guru used to scream the slogan, “Stop the insanity!” I agree with her advice as it relates to sunlight exposure and would like to scream that it is insane for medical and governmental organizations to frighten their citizens out of the sunlight. Sunshine has become one of our most critical health needs, and those who would have us avoid it at all costs have blood on their hands.
 Dowell, S. et al. Seasonal patterns of invasive pneumococcal disease. Emerg Infect Dis 2003;9:573-9.
 Leow L, Simpson T, Cursons R, Karalus N, Hancox RJ. Vitamin D, innate immunity and outcomes in community acquired pneumonia. Respirology. 2011;16(4):611-6
 White AN, Ng V, Spain CV, Johnson CC, Kinlin LM, Fisman DN. Let the sun shine in: effects of ultraviolet radiation on invasive pneumococcal disease risk in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. BMC Infect Dis. 2009 Dec 4;9:196.
 Oduwole AO, Renner JK, Disu E, Ibitoye E, Emokpae E. Relationship between Vitamin D Levels and Outcome of Pneumonia in Children. West Afr J Med 2010;29(6):373-8.
Crohn’s Disease is a nasty autoimmune bowel disease that causes abdominal pain, inflammation and fibrous tissue buildup. It is increasing in incidence, particularly among people younger than 20, a group that spends less time outdoors each passing year. Unfortunately and unnaturally, young people spend their time in indoor activities, and when venturing outdoors are advised by their parents and medical “experts” to dutifully apply sunscreen, which can reduce the production of vitamin D in the skin by up to 99%.
Crohn’s is closely correlated to vitamin D deficiency, and moderate sunlight exposure coupled with winter supplementation has been recommended in the past to reduce its severity. Fifty percent of Crohn’s patients have levels of vitamin D below 20 ng/ml (very deficient) in winter and 19% in summer.
Suffice it to say (without reviewing the copious research indicating that sunlight and vitamin D correlate to lower risk of many autoimmune diseases), it appears that sunlight exposure may help to reduce the risk of Crohn’s. The latest indication is a study from France, demonstrating that people living in geographic areas of lowest sunlight exposure have a substantially higher risk of Crohn’s disease. This disease is just one of more than 100 that correlate closely to deficiency of sunlight and vitamin D, yet we continue to see warnings by dermatologists to avoid the sun. When will they ever learn?
Non-burning sunlight exposure is a boon to mankind, and it does not cause melanoma. Read my book for more information or see my earlier blogs on the subject of melanoma and sunlight.
 Chouraki V, et al “The changing pattern of Crohn’s disease incidence according to age in northern France: a constant increase in the 0-19 years age group (1988-2005)” DDW 2009; Abstract 114.
 Matsuoka, L. et al. sunscreens suppress cutaneous vitamin D3 synthesis. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 1987; 64:1165-68
 Gilman, J. et al. Determinants of vitamin D status in adult Crohn’s disease patients, with particular emphasis on supplemental vitamin D use. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2006;60(7):889-96
 Nerich, V. et al. Low exposure to sunlight is a risk factor for Crohn’s disease. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2011;33(8):940-945.
MUMBAI: The city’s upper middle class and wealthy may adhere to a healthy lifestyle with plenty of exercise, but our attempt to seek cover from the harsh gaze of the tropical sun has put us at risk.
Most Mumbaikars working in air-conditioned offices are lacking in vital Vitamin D, the benefits of which range from strengthening bones and teeth to preventing diabetes, cancer and cardiac problems. The sun’s rays are a major source of Vitamin D.
A study conducted by doctors at P D Hinduja Hospital at Mahim found that 77.5% of 561 males and 72.68 % of 443 females, who had come to the hospital for routine health checkups, were deficient in Vitamin D. Men and women in the 40-60 age group appeared to be the most vulnerable, said doctors.
Of the 1,004 healthy men and women tested, 75% had a deficiency with less than 20 nanograms (ng) of Vitamin D per milli litre of blood. Another 20% had “insufficient” levels of Vitamin D. Only 2.4% men and 5.4 % women tested had adequate levels of vitamin D in their blood, which is more than 40ng/ml.
Doctors say this is a worrisome trend and call it an “underlying epidemic” .
NOT ENOUGH OF THE SUNSHINE VITAMIN
Though the major source of Vitamin D is sunlight, it’s also found in food items like raw milk and cod liver oil It maintains normal calcium and phosphorous levels in the blood, which are needed for strong bones & teeth Apart from brittle bones and teeth, recent studies have also found a correlation between Vitamin D deficiency and Type-I diabetes, and cancer A study conducted by Hinduja Hospital doctors found that Mumbaikars suffer from a massive Vitamin D deficiency. Only 2.4% of 561 males tested and 5.4% of 443 females had healthy levels of Vitamin D Of the 561 men tested, 435 showed deficiency (less than 20 nanogram per millilitre), while 112 had insufficent amounts of Vit D (between 21-40 ng/ml). Of the 443 women tested, only 24 showed sufficiency (above 40ng/ml)
Lifestyles hit Vitamin D levels
Mumbai: On one hand scientists warn us of the sun’s harmful UV rays. On the other hand, these rays are a vital source of essential Vitamin D, which is often called the sunshine vitamin. When doctors at Hinduja Hospital in Mahim tested people who had come for routine medical checkups, they found that an overwhelming majority—75 % of 1,004 people—were seriously deficient in Vitamin D. All the people hailed from upper middleclass and wealthy families.
The sunshine vitamin is not only required for healthy bones and a strong skeletal structure, emerging studies have linked deficiencies to diseases like diabetes and cancer, cardiacrelated ailments, neuromuscular disorders and even abnormal brain functions.
Yet the deficiency of vitamin D remains unexplained in a city like Mumbai where sunlight is found in abundance. Doctors blame it on urbanization and lifestyle. Dr Vipla Puri, consultant, laboratory medicine , P D Hinduja Hospital said: “Almost all people who hail from higher-income groups work indoors and step out only after the sun sets. It is taking a huge toll, silently.” Her department had collected the data for the study over the last three months.
According to Dr Sudhindra Kulkarni endocrinologist at Fortis Hospital, Mulund, the deficiency is “rampant and alarming” . He said: “It is not only about less or more exposure to sunlight but about appropriate absorption of the light and its conversion to Vitamin D. That process is suffering leading to an array of problems, and recently even metabolic disorders.” People step out of their air-conditioned houses and step into their air-conditioned cars and once again enter their air-conditioned offices, he added.
Experts say that many patients suffering from diabetes and thyroid are also found to have Vitamin D deficiency. This could explain why more youngsters are falling prey to health problems like osteoporosis.
Besides sunlight, an appropriate diet is also required. Head of the endocrinology department at KEM Hospital Dr Nalini Shah said Indian food, unlike in the West is not fortified with Vitamin D. Even after adequate exposure to sunlight , some may suffer from the deficiency, she said. “The UV rays may get filtered due to environmental conditions.”
A workable solution is to expose oneself to adequate sunlight every day for anywhere between 15-30 minutes, added Puri: “The good news is that public awareness is improving . “We do at least 150 Vitamin D tests a day, which was not the case few years ago,” she said.
THE ABCs OF D
It is a fat soluble vitamin, something that gets easily dissolved in body fat SUN’S RAYS | A major source of Vitamin D is exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun. It is absorbed by the body when UV rays touch the skin. The chemical conversion of Vitamin D into its hormone form is performed by the liver and kidney
OTHER SOURCES |
Though its major source is sunlight, Vitamin D can also be found in certain food items such as raw milk and cod liver oil
WHY DO WE NEED IT?
It maintains normal calcium and phosphorous levels in the blood, which are needed for strong bones and healthy teeth. Phosphorous is required to keep the body’s muscles and nerves in working order
It aids in the absorption of calcium , and helps form and maintain strong bones
In adults, Vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteomalacia, where the bones become thin and brittle It can cause muscular weakness It can lead to osteoporosis , which is the thinning of bone tissues and their degeneration over time In kids, it can cause rickets (weakening of bones) Studies have linked deficiency to diabetes, cancer, cardiac ailments, neuromuscular disorders and abnormal brain functions.
Sunlight, and plenty of it, may be the best method for reducing the risk of melanoma. An impressive piece of research on melanoma and sunlight appeared recently in the European Journal of Cancer. Dr. Julia Newton Bishop and colleagues (thirteen scientists in all) researched sunlight exposure habits and compared those habits to the risk of melanoma in an English population. Among other notable findings was a considerable reduction in melanoma risk among those who received the highest summer sunlight exposure on weekends. Compared to those with the least exposure to sunlight on weekends, those who received 4-5 hours of sunlight during the weekends had a reduced risk of melanoma of 28%, and those who received more than 5 hours had a reduced risk of melanoma of 33%.
In general, the English have very light complexions—complexions that are known to be more susceptible to melanoma, a fact that makes the research even more interesting. One can only conclude from this information that regular sunlight exposure protects against melanoma. In reality, this result should come as no surprise; at least 16 studies have shown indoor workers are much more likely to contract melanoma than outdoor workers. Other research points out that melanomas occur much more frequently on areas of the body that receive little or no exposure to sunlight.
Finally, it is quite obvious that outdoor living has decreased dramatically since 1935. Based on materials furnished by the Department of Labor Statistics, I calculated that sunlight exposure has decreased by at least 83%.. Yet, the Melanoma International Foundation has stated, “Melanoma is epidemic: rising faster than any other cancer and projected to affect one person in 50 by 2010, currently it affects 1 in 75 . In 1935, only one in 1500 was struck by the disease.” In other words, as sunlight exposure has dropped profoundly, melanoma risk has increased by 3,000%! Based on those facts, the idea—that sunlight exposure is the cause of melanoma—is counterintuitive at best, and ludicrous at worst.
It is likely that vitamin D production in the skin, in response to sunlight, is a major player in reducing the risk of melanoma. Enzymes in melanoma cells form active vitamin D, which in turn can lead to melanoma cell death, and in lab experiments, active vitamin D can destroy melanoma cells. In fact, vitamin D works in many ways to reduce cancer. Here are just a few:
1. Vitamin D promotes apoptosis (normal cell death) so that cancer cells die normally.
2. Vitamin D inhibits proliferation (out-of-control growth) of cancer cells.
3. Vitamin D inhibits angiogenesis in cancerous tissue. Angiogenesis is the formation of blood vessels. It is a process that provides blood and nutrients to newly formed tissue. If angiogenesis in cancer cells can be stopped, the cells die. Vitamin D acts a selective angiogenesis inhibitor—it retards the growth of new, undesirable “feeder” blood vessels into cancer cells.
4. Vitamin D inhibits metastasis (the spreading of cancer cells from the initial location of the disease to another location).
The key to safe sunlight exposure is to avoid burning and to gradually develop a tan. Caution is always in order. To prevent melanoma, we need not to avoid the sunlight but safely embrace it!
 Newton-Bishop, J et. al. Relationship between sun exposure and melanoma risk for tumours in different body sites in a large case-control study in a temperate climate. European Journal of Cancer 2011; 4 7; 7 3 2 –7 4 1.
 Lee J. Melanoma and exposure to sunlight. Epidemiol Rev 1982;4:110–36.
Vågero D, Ringbäck G, Kiviranta H. Melanoma and other tumors of the skin among office, other indoor and outdoor workers in Sweden 1961–1979 Brit J Cancer 1986;53:507–12.
Kennedy C, Bajdik CD, Willemze R, De Gruijl FR, Bouwes Bavinck JN; Leiden Skin Cancer Study. The influence of painful sunburns and lifetime sun exposure on the risk of actinic keratoses, seborrheic warts, melanocytic nevi, atypical nevi, and skin cancer. Invest Dermatol 2003;120:1087–93.
Garland FC, White MR, Garland CF, Shaw E, Gorham ED. Occupational sunlight exposure and melanoma in the USA Navy. Arch Environ Health 1990; 45:261-67.
Kaskel P, Sander S, Kron M, Kind P, Peter RU, Krähn G. Outdoor activities in childhood: a protective factor for cutaneous melanoma? Results of a case-control study in 271 matched pairs. Br J Dermatol 2001;145:602-09.
Garsaud P, Boisseau-Garsaud AM, Ossondo M, Azaloux H, Escanmant P, Le Mab G. Epidemiology of cutaneous melanoma in the French West Indies (Martinique). Am J Epidemiol 1998;147:66-8.
Le Marchand l, Saltzman S, Hankin JH, Wilkens LR, Franke SJM, Kolonel N. Sun exposure, diet and melanoma in Hawaii Caucasians. Am J Epidemiol 2006;164:232-45.
Armstong K, Kricker A. The epidemiology of UV induced skin cancer. J Photochem Biol 2001;63:8-18
Crombie IK. Distribution of malignant melanoma on the body surface. Br J Cancer 1981;43:842-9.
Crombie IK. Variation of melanoma incidence with latitude in North America and Europe. Br J Cancer 1979;40:774-81.
Weinstock MA, Colditz,BA, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ. Bronstein, BR, Speizer FE. Nonfamilial cutaneous melanoma incidence in women associated with sun exposure before 20 years of age. Pediatrics 1989;84:199-204.
Tucker MA, Goldstein AM. Melanoma etiology: where are we? Oncogene 20f03;22:3042-52.
Berwick M, Armstrong BK, Ben-Porat L, Fine J, Kricker A, Eberle C. Sun exposure and mortality from melanoma. J Nat Cancer Inst 2005;97:95-199.
Veierød MB, Weiderpass E, Thörn M, Hansson J, Lund E, Armstrong B. A prospective study of pigmentation, sun exposure, and risk of cutaneous malignant melanoma in women. J Natl Cancer Inst 2003;95:1530-8.
Oliveria SA, Saraiya M, Geller AC, Heneghan MK, Jorgensen C. Sun exposure and risk of melanoma. Arch Dis Child 2006;91:131-8.
Elwood JM, Gallagher RP, Hill GB, Pearson JCG. Cutaneous melanoma in relation to intermittent and constant sun exposure—the western Canada melanoma study. Int J Cancer 2006;35:427-33
 Garland FC, White MR, Garland CF, Shaw E, Gorham ED. Occupational sunlight exposure and melanoma in the USA Navy. Arch Environ Health 1990; 45:261-67.
Rivers, J. Is there more than one road to melanoma? Lancet 2004;363:728-30.
Crombie, I. Racial differences in melanoma incidence. Br J Cancer 1979;40:185-93.
 Ian D. Wyatt and Daniel E. Hecker. Occupational changes in the 20th century. Monthly Labor Review, March 2006 pp 35-57: Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics.
 Chida K, Hashiba H, Fukushima M, Suda T, Kuroki T. Inhibition of tumor promotion in mouse skin by 1 alpha, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D3. J Cancer Res 1985;45:5426–30.
 Evans SR, Houghton AM, Schumaker L, Brenner RV, Buras RR, Davoodi F, et al. Vitamin D receptor and growth inhibition by 1, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 in human malignant melanoma cell lines. J Surg Res 1996;61:127–33.
 Seifert M, Diesel B, Meese E, Tilgen W, Reichrath J. Expression of 25-hydroxyvitamin D-1alpha-hydroxylase in malignant melanoma: implications for growth control via local synthesis of 1,25(OH)D and detection of multiple splice variants. Exp Dermatol 2005;14:153–4.
 Diaz, G. et al. Apoptosis is induced by the active metabolite of vitamin D3 and its analogue EB1089 in colorectal adenoma and carcinoma cells: possible implications for prevention and therapy. Cancer Res 2000;60:2304-12.
Swamy, N. et al. Inhibition of proliferation and induction of apoptosis by 25-hydroxyvitamin D3-3beta-(2)-Bromoacetate, a nontoxic and vitamin D receptor-alkylating analog of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 in prostate cancer cells. Clin Cancer Res. 2004;10:8018-27.
Miller, E. et l. Calcium, vitamin D, and apoptosis in the rectal epithelium. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention 2005;14: 525-28.
 Swamy, N. et al. Inhibition of proliferation and induction of apoptosis by 25-hydroxyvitamin D3-3beta-(2)-Bromoacetate, a nontoxic and vitamin D receptor-alkylating analog of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 in prostate cancer cells. Clin Cancer Res. 2004;10:8018-27.
 Mantell, D. et al. 1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 inhibits angiogenesis in vitro and in vivo. Circulation Research. 2000;87:214.
 Nakagawa K. et al. 1alpha,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D(3) is a preventive factor in the metastasis of lung cancer. Carcinogenesis 2005;26:429-40.
El Abdaimi, K. et al. The vitamin D analogue EB 1089 prevents skeletal metastasis and prolongs survival time in nude mice transplanted with human breast cancer cells. Cancer Research 2000;60:4412-4418.
Lokeshwar B. et al. Inhibition of prostate cancer metastasis in vivo: a comparison of 1,23-dihydroxyvitamin D (calcitriol) and EB1089. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Rev. 1999;8:241-48. –
By: Jonathan Benson–
Exposing skin to natural sunlight every day is the best way for the body to receive adequate levels of health-promoting and disease-preventing vitamin D. But in what can only be described as carrying on a legacy of pseudo-scientific stupidity, the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention (NCSCP) — whose members include the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) — has recently come out urging people to avoid sunlight exposure at all costs, and instead take vitamin D supplements.
While vitamin D supplements can be helpful in treating cases of vitamin D deficiency, or during the winter months when sunlight exposure is limited, it is sheer lunacy to suggest that the sun is dangerous and must be avoided, as did NCSCP. Henry W. Lim, MD, co-chair of NCSCP and chairman of dermatology at Henry Ford Hospital, actually stated that he believes it is “not appropriate” to expose skin to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight.
UV radiation, however, is precisely what skin needs to be exposed to in order to produce vitamin D. And numerous recent studies have confirmed that not only is natural sunlight beneficial for skin, but avoiding it is responsible for all kinds of diseases, including the reemergence of rickets.
In other words, the NCSCP recommendations are a public health hazard, as not getting enough UV radiation from natural sunlight will destroy health. Even the supplementation recommendations from NCSCP are dismally low, constituting a mere 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D a day. In fact, a recent study published in the journal Anticancer Research explains that the average adult needs around 8,000 IU of vitamin D a day to protect against serious diseases like diabetes and cancer.
To put it bluntly, avoiding the sun out of fear is pure stupidity. With proper antioxidant intake and a gradual conditioning of your skin to accept sunlight without burning, virtually everyone can benefit from regular sunlight exposure without having to accept the fear mongering and lies that have for too long kept people lathering themselves in toxic sunscreens and avoiding the sun at all costs.
To learn more about the many benefits of vitamin D, visit:
Research by Zayed University and Shaikh Khalifa Medical City hospital shows emirati university students are vitamin D deficient and depressed due to avoiding the sun.
A vision of sun-deprived individuals isn’t something you’d associate with the UAE, which experiences year-round sunshine.
However, research by Zayed University (ZU) and Shaikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC) Hospital indicates that a large segment of the population is avoiding the sun — especially in the summer — to their detriment.
After conducting a study with almost 200 students at ZU, researchers found more than a quarter of the students were severely vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D levels, shown in the blood, for those students who participated in the summer were significantly lower than those in the winter.
Though the results were conducted with a sample group that was all female, student and Emirati, the findings are representative of the UAE population as about 50 per cent is under the age of 25, principal investigator and ZU Biochemist and Microbiologist Dr Fatme Al Anouti said.
The next step is a Dh200,000 larger scale study, funded by the Emirates Foundation, that looks at vitamin D deficiency among the general population of Abu Dhabi but with a focus on Emiratis, she said.
Also part of the study is Dr Justin Thomas at ZU’s Department of Natural Science and Public Health who explored the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and depression among the female university students at ZU.
He found that the summer students in the study also showed the most depression symptoms.
Over the years more attention has focused on vitamin D’s role in mental health problems, particularly schizophrenia and mood disorders such as major depressive and seasonal affective disorder. When it comes to vitamin D deficiency and mood disorders, studies have shown there is a higher incidence among women.
Dr Thomas said several studies have described the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in the Gulf Arab populations and focused on the health consequences. However “no work to date has explored the psychological consequences of vitamin D deficiency or the issue of seasonal variations in deficiency and symptom severity”.
Dr Al Anouti was told of the problem when she spoke with doctors at SKMC Hospital who noticed that patients were severely deficient in vitamin D when lab tests were run. “It’s really prevalent but no one has documented this public health problem because people think this is the country of the sun. They think it’s normal for people who live in Canada to have vitamin D deficiency.”
Emiratis are particularly at risk because traditional dress does not allow the body to be exposed, Dr Al Anouti said. Complexion is also a problem as it takes longer for darker skinned people to absorb UVB rays when exposed to the sun. UVB rays from the sun convert cholesterol in skin to vitamin D.
Dr Thomas said there was a misconception that people could get their vitamin D dose while behind windows or in the car. “You need a fair amount of exposure… people can go weeks and even months in a sun rich country without substantial sun on the skin.”
He added that factors such as high levels of obesity, relatively dark skin pigmentation and the presence of dust in the atmosphere play a role in reducing the skin’s ability to synthesise vitamin D. Cultural issues such as the desire to be light skinned is also a factor in sun avoidance. Dr Thomas said some of the female students want to be light skinned while others go to tanning salons and have a modern approach.
Majority do not seek treatment
University students are not free from depression but the majority of them do not seek treatment for a number of reasons, University of Wollongong in Dubai students counsellor Talien Huisman said.
American University of Sharjah’s director of health services Dr Lubna A. Yousuf acknowledges the link between vitamin D deficiency and depression but says the most common reason for depression is homesickness, adjusting to university life and dealing with the pressures of examinations and studies.
Saleema Al Harbi, a student at Dubai Women’s College, says weather is the main reason that students avoid the sun. “I’ve heard about this from people and newspapers and I think it’s a problem if people are depressed like this.”
Although Saleema admits that she avoids the sun because she doesn’t want to be darker and it is traditional. However, not all her friends share this view and regularly visit tanning salons. Munira Mohammad, also a DWC student, says Emirati women are not avoiding the sun and it’s not because of traditional clothing either. “We do our best to take the sunlight, especially in the morning and we sit outside and open the windows.”
Doctors recommend about 10-15 minutes of direct sun exposure between 10am and 3pm every day is needed to synthesise vitamin D.
In darker skinned individuals vitamin D is produced more slowly and longer sun exposure is needed.
Obese and older people also synthesise vitamin D more slowly and require more sunlight.
Apart from sun exposure, foods such as egg, certain fish and liver will provide your vitamin D requirements. Supplements help but sunlight is best.
Depression is associated with heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and low bone mineral density, all illnesses thought to be linked to vitamin D deficiency.
Urbanisation, working indoors, living in tall buildings, driving tinted cars, clothing all body parts, applying sun blocking creams on face all contribute to vitamin D deficiency.
Symptoms and signs for vitamin D deficiency include muscle pain, weak bones/fractures, low energy and fatigue, lowered immunity, symptoms of depression and mood swings, and sleep irregularities.