The Sun. What it really does to you.

In New Zealand, 300 people die each year from melanoma (skin cancer).  It’s a country with a vested interest in fully understanding the UV/Vitamin D relationship.  This recent (Nov 13, 2010) article from a national magazine goes into the current debate.

Too Hot to Handle
The Listener

To go out in the sun to get the vitamin D essential for good health or to stay in the shade to avoid skin cancer? Ruth Laugesen tries to make sense of an increasingly controversial dilemma.

An oddity of human disease first piqued epidemiologist Robert Scragg’s interest back in the early 1980s. No one’s sure why, but winter is the killing season for cardiovascular disease. In most countries, 30-40% more people die from heart disease and strokes in winter than in summer.

For Scragg, it was the start of a decades-long interest in the role of vitamin D in protecting the body against a range of illnesses. Scragg and many other researchers had a hunch that lower vitamin D levels in the body during winter could be the reason for higher mortality from cardiovascular disease. The major source of vitamin D is the sun, with very little coming from diet.

“Each winter, vitamin D levels in the body go way down, and that’s due to the sun’s rays not being as strong in winter as they are in summer,” says Scragg, associate professor at the School of Population Health at the University of Auckland.

The study of vitamin D in the body and its role in protecting against a wide range of chronic illnesses has become a boom area in medical research. It was already well established that low vitamin D is critical for maintaining optimum bone and muscle function, and preventing rickets and bone fragility.

But a tantalising new wave of research has found low levels of vitamin D are also associated with an astonishing array of serious conditions: internal cancers, diabetes, strokes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, tuberculosis, osteoporosis and respiratory infections.

The full article is well-worth reading and can be found here.

Related posts:

  1. Sun helps to battle skin cancer?
  2. To sunblock or not to sunblock?
  3. Vitamin D and Pneumonia
  4. Vitamin D Deficiencies At Epidemic Levels
  5. Conflict Of Interest In Melanoma Study

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