Sun Exposure for Vitamin D Is Bad Medicine
York NY, 25 March 2004
Source: : The Sun Safety Alliance; Coppertone
to prevent vitamin D deficiency is like smoking to combat anxiety,
experts say in response to recent reports linking the health benefits
of vitamin D to unprotected sun exposure. According to the American
Academy of Dermatology (AAD), the Yale School of Dermatology and
the Sun Safety Alliance, these claims are scientifically unsound
and mislead the public about the very real dangers of ultraviolet
(UV) radiationthe leading cause of skin cancer.
Madeline Duvic, Deputy Chair of the MD Anderson Cancer Center Department
of Dermatology, says, "Given that the US Department of Health and
Human Services recently declared UV radiation from the sun as a
known carcinogen, it's premature and misleading to claim that mid-day
sun is a safe and effective way to get vitamin D."
AAD says it is "deeply concerned" about the current claim by Dr.
Michael Holick, director of the vitamin D laboratory at Boston University
School of Medicine, that exposing unprotected skin to the sun several
times a week is necessary to prevent vitamin D deficiency. Holick
cites two studies that found inadequate levels of vitamin D among
people in two northeastern cities where the sun's ultraviolet (UV)
rays don't penetrate during winter months. According to Holick,
always wearing sunscreen is tantamount to creating this same "winter-like"
environment on the skin, causing vitamin D levels to drop.
am not aware of any scientific studies that support this claim,"
said Dr. David J. Leffell of the Yale School of Medicine Department
of Dermatology. "In my two decades of practice, I've never seen
vitamin D deficiency caused by lack of sun exposure due to sunscreen
use, yet the evidence that UV rays from the sun cause skin cancer
says the winter drop in vitamin D levels among northeastern residents
is a normal process that is well-known and easily accommodated by
dietary supplementation. He cites inadequate diet as a culprit in
the "very small" portion of the population that is truly vitamin
D deficient. For these people, Leffell says, deficiency can be offset
by taking vitamin D supplements or drinking fortified milk.
even small amounts of sun exposure is bad advice, according to the
Sun Safety Alliance, since there is no "acceptable" dose for carcinogens
like UV radiation. Every exposure has some adverse affectalthough
this may be difficult to measure.
Schneider, director of the Sun Safety Alliance, also finds Holick's
position unsound. "The practical and factual advice communicated
to the public is based on the well-documented fact that ultraviolet
radiation from the sun is carcinogenic. Enjoy the outdoors, and
protect yourself. Block the sun but not the fun is proper advice.
The factual truth is that tanning is dangerous because it increases
the risk for skin cancer."
D is essential for maintaining proper health, including the body's
absorption of calcium and the proper function of muscles. However,
the experts agree that studies linking the nutrient to a reduced
risk of a number of cancers are preliminary, and would not alter
their recommendation of supplementing over sunning if proven true.
in five Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime,
and it is one of the few cancers where the cause is known. Each
year approximately one million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed
in the US, and over 91,000 Americans are diagnosed with melanoma,
the most serious form of skin cancer. One person dies of melanoma
every hour. Melanoma is also one of the few cancers that continues
to riseat a rate of 3 percent annually.
American Academy of Dermatology recommends that everyone practice
a comprehensive sun protection program, including avoiding outdoor
activities when the sun's rays are strongest, seeking shade whenever
possible, wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a Sun Protection
Factor (SPF) of at least 15 and reapplying every two hours.
the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD)
in 1938, the AAD is the largest, most influential, and most representative
of all dermatologic associations. With a membership of over 14,000
dermatologists worldwide, the Academy is committed to advancing
the diagnosis and medical, surgical and cosmetic treatment of the
skin and nails; advocating high standards in clinical practice,
education and research in dermatology, supporting and enhancing
patient care for a lifetime of healthier skin. For more information
contact the AAD at 1-888-462-DERM or www.aad.org.
The Sun Safety Alliance
Sun Safety Alliance (SSA) is being established as a nonprofit
coalition dedicated to the task of reducing the incidence of skin
cancer in America by motivating people to actively adopt and practice
safe sun protection. The SSA's founding members are the National
Association of Chain Drug Stores and Coppertone® Suncare Products.
Sun Safety Alliance; Coppertone.