Just "D" Facts about Vitamin D

Benefits of Moderate UV Sunshine Exposure

“Risk of skin cancers increase by 75% when people start using tanning beds before age 30.”

Posted by D3forU on May 24, 2010

“Risk of skin cancers increase by 75 % when people start using tanning beds before age 30.”

This quote has been used frequently in the news as the basis for banning tanning either completely or for all under 18 years of age. The implication here is that 75%, or 3 out of every 4 people, who enter a tanning bed will at some time in their lives, contract Melanoma as a direct result of their actions.

What the original report in 2006 actually stated was: “Based on 19 informative studies, ever-use of sunbeds was positively associated with melanoma (summary relative risk, 1.15; 95% CI, 1.00–1.31), although there was no consistent evidence of a dose–response relationship. First exposure to sunbeds before 35 years of age significantly increased the risk of melanoma, based on 7 informative studies (summary relative risk, 1.75; 95% CI, 1.35–2.26).”

The studies claiming to show that sunlight, UVR or a tanning device causes CMM all have very small RR (Relative Risk) values, less than 2.0, when the authors know, or reasonably should know, that a RR of at least 3.0 is required to prove that there is a cause-and-effect relationship between two events. In case they forgot, here are a few quotes to remind them:

· “As a general rule of thumb, we are looking for a relative risk of 3.0 or more before accepting a paper for publication.” Marcia Angell, editor of the New England Journal Of Medicine

· “My basic rule is, if the relative risk isn’t at least 3 or 4, forget It.”Robert Temple, Director of Drug Evaluation for the U.S. Food And Drug Administration

· “Relative risks of less than 3.0 are considered small and are difficult to interpret. Such increases may be due to chance, coincidence, statistical bias or the effect of confounding factors that are sometimes not evident.” Excerpt from a National Cancer Institute publication.

Even Vincent Cogliano, head of the IARC Monographs program at the International Agency for Research on Cancer– where the World Health Organization-sanction group’s debate originated — admits the results on which many of the conclusions are based are “limited,” and “most (of the 2009 position) is based on the 2006 working group report and we do not have the gold standard, double-blind type of research to work with,” he said.

When asked why tanning beds were made such a focus of this WHO/IARC position, Cogliano said: “It was our 100th year and we wanted to pick something that looked at the past and into the future. UV radiation and the sun is (from the) past, tanning beds (are linked to) the future.”

A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal “Dermato-Endocrinology” (Dermato-Endocrinology 1:6, 1-7; Nov/Dec 2009; © 2009 Landes Bioscience) shows that there is no statistically significant connection between sunbeds and melanoma in those who can develop suntans (skin type II-VI), with increased risk centered only on those whose skin is so fair it cannot tan (skin type I).

William B. Grant, PhD, a former NASA atmospheric research scientist and founder of SUNARC, Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center (SUNARC), re-examined the same epidemiological data used by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) group from their findings in 2007 titled, “The association of use of sunbeds with cutaneous malignant melanoma and other skin cancers: a systematic review”. Grant’s study strongly challenges this review and argues it is both flawed and cannot be used as the basis for U.S. health policy.

ACCORDING TO GRANT’S ANALYSIS:

  • The reported 75% increased risk of melanoma for those ever having used a sunbed prior to age 35 drops to a 25% Reduced Risk of Melanoma in the United States based on a scientifically-centered re-analysis of the data in the IARC report.
  • When skin type I is omitted from the IARC analysis, the reported 15% increased risk in melanoma fails to remain statistically significant. This is based on a meta-analysis of the 14 studies not from the UK, where skin type I is most prevalent.
  • The IARC study inappropriately combined four studies from northern Europe, one from the UK, one from Canada, and one from the U.S. in the analysis of first use of sunbeds before the age of 35 years. There are vast differences between American and European sunbed regulations and use. US regulations do not allow Skin Type I patrons to tan, European tanning beds are often used at home or are unsupervised and do not follow the regulations in the U.S. The study fails to state that its findings are not, and should not be considered “universal findings.”

“The reason this “Skin Type I” distinction is so important is that we now know that UV avoidance among people who can develop a tan has contributed to epidemic-level vitamin D deficiency in North America, with 3 out of 4 Americans being vitamin D deficient today,” said Grant. “Our public health messages about the benefits of UV radiation from any source need to recognize this.”

The IARC report was a meta-analysis of epidemiologic surveys – questionnaire surveys designed to retrospectively identify correlations, but which do not by nature identify causation. As stated in the IARC report, “Epidemiologic studies to date give no consistent evidence that use of indoor tanning facilities in general is associated with the development of melanoma or skin cancer.”

Melanoma’s connection with UV exposure is controversial, as research clearly shows it is more common in indoor workers than in outdoor workers and is more common on parts of the body that aren’t regularly exposed to sunlight, implicating sun burning rather than regular tanning.

Another recent study from Grant, “In Defense of the Sun,” published in Dermato-Endrocrinology, suggests that raising vitamin D blood levels to 45 ng/ml could reduce mortality rates in the United States by 15% and prevent up to 400,000 premature deaths from vitamin D deficiency-related diseases annually. Such diseases include many types of cancers, cardiovascular disease, heart failure, respiratory infections, diabetes, and falls and fractures.

Vitamin D researchers today recommend vitamin D blood levels should be maintained above 40-60 ng/ml. At least 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily in addition to dietary sources and casual solar UV irradiance are required to maintain those levels. According to peer-reviewed, published research, indoor tanners have those levels, but non-tanners do not. Indoor tanners: 42-49 ng/ml. American average: 23-25 ng/ml

“There is conclusive evidence that indoor tanning in a non-burning fashion offers a tremendous source of vitamin D,” Grant says. “The benefit of regular UV exposure as the body’s only true natural source of sufficient vitamin D production easily outweighs the manageable risks associated with overexposure to sunlight,” Grant says. “We know now through more than 2,000 papers published in 2009 that smart UV exposure and increased vitamin D levels will not only save lives, but also extend and increase our quality of life.”

For more info, visit www.vitamindhealth.org , www.vitamindcouncil.com , www.sunlighttruth.com , www.grassrootshealth.net , www.sunarc.org

PDF of this summary

Link to Dr Grant’s complete report

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