Just "D" Facts about Vitamin D

Benefits of Moderate UV Sunshine Exposure

Archive for July, 2010

How To Get Enough Vitamin D

Posted by D3forU on July 23, 2010

How To Get Enough Vitamin D

Dr John Cannell Vitamin D Council

There are 3 ways for adults to ensure adequate levels of vitamin D:

Regularly receive midday sun exposure in the late spring, summer, and early fall,

exposing as much of the skin as possible (being careful to never burn).

Regularly use a sun bed (avoiding sunburn) during the colder months.

Take 5,000 IU per day for 2–3 months, then obtain a 25(OH)D test.

Adjust dosage so blood levels are 50–80 ng/mL (or 125–200 nM/L) year-round.

Humans make thousands of units of Vitamin D within minutes of whole body exposure to sunlight. From what we know of Nature, it is unlikely such a system evolved by chance.

Vitamin D Council

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Commentary

Interestingly, most major medical groups do not recommend any of the above sources, and that the Daily Value for Vitamin D is only 400 IU, even though studies have shown the average American needs about 4-5,000 IU from all sources every day.

20 minutes of full body exposure, per side, (total of 40 min. exp.) dependent on a number of factors including time of day, season of the year, cloud cover, skin type, and facultative (existing) tan, can make 10- 20,000 IU of Vitamin D.

5-15 minutes of full body exposure, both side, dependent on a number of factors including  skin type, and facultative (existing) tan, type of lamps, can make the same amount of Vitamin D as 40 minutes (both sides) of full body outdoor exposure. Full session time is typically not required to produce maximum amounts of Vitamin D in a tanning bed.

The National Upper limit for Vitamin D supplements is presently only 2,000 IU for adults.

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Antioxidants Prevent Sunburn

Posted by D3forU on July 18, 2010

Oral antioxidants prevent sunburn and cure chronic disease while using natural sunlight to manufacturer Vitamin D.

I love learning a new piece of information. It gives hope to those of us past any chance of a mid-life crisis. I was watching Mike Adam’s (The Health Ranger) video on Vitamin D and Sunshine (below) and two pieces of information caught my attention.

Click HERE to watch the Video

The first was Mike’s statement antioxidants in the diet protect the body from sunburn. He went on to tell a story about the early American colonists in the Southern colonies and how they would get sunburned necks during the summer. Mike explained this was caused by a lack of Vitamin B and other anti-oxidants in the colonist’s diet. For trivia experts that is where the term “Red Neck” originated.

Having never heard antioxidants in the diet protected one from sunburn my interest was tweaked. Thinking about my own experiences I had to believe Mike was correct. I have been on high levels of oral antioxidants for many years. I sun midday an hour daily during the summer. And, I have not suffered sunburn since I can’t remember when.

Doing a Google search the scientific studies were soon at hand supporting the information.

Potentials and limitations of the natural antioxidants RRR-alpha-tocopherol, L-ascorbic acid and beta-carotene in cutaneous photoprotection. Fuchs J. – Department of Dermatology, School of Medicine, J.W. Goethe University, Frankfurt, German

Effects of oral vitamin E and beta-carotene supplementation on ultraviolet radiation-induced oxidative stress in human skin. Frank McArdle, Lesley E Rhodes, Richard AG Parslew, Graeme L Close, Catherine IA Jack, Peter S Friedmann and Malcolm J Jackson

Grinding Corn

So much information, in the form of scientific studies, is available that I am embarrassed to admit not recalling ever seeing the information that my diet could help prevent sunburn.

The second amazing fact was that Indians soaked their corn in lye or lime water prior to grinding to help in the extraction of the B-Vitamins. Again, Google made short work of finding scientific evidence supporting Mike’s remarks exactly.

RAW VERSUS PROCESSED CORN IN. NIACIN-DEFICIENT. DIETS. J. LAGUNA’ AND K. J. CARPENTER. Soweit Research Institute, Bucksburn, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

The PDF file linked directly above is really quite fascinating. For those on raw food, growing your own vegetables, grinding your own meal and flour I suspect you already knew all about lye, lime and processing corn for nutrients. For those of you raised on American TV, like myself, the revelations should be interesting.

Ok, enough of an introduction. Watch Mike’s video and add several more pieces to the natural health equation. We not only treat and prevent cancer using Vitamin D but you have additional information on doing it safely using natural sunlight. – Pdazzler

Click HERE to watch the Video

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70-99% of US Population Deficient in Vitamin D

Posted by D3forU on July 16, 2010

Arch Intern Med. 2009 Mar 23;169(6):626-32.

Demographic Differences and Trends of Vitamin D Insufficiency

in the US Population, 1988-2004.

Ginde AA, Liu MC, Camargo CA Jr.

Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, Aurora, 80045, USA. adit.ginde@ucdenver.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Vitamin D insufficiency is associated with suboptimal health. The prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency may be rising, but population-based trends are uncertain.

We sought to evaluate US population trends in vitamin D insufficiency.

METHODS:

We compared serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) levels from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), collected during 1988 through 1994, with NHANES data collected from 2001 through 2004 (NHANES 2001-2004).

Complete data were available for 18 883 participants in NHANES III and 13 369 participants in NHANES 2001-2004.

RESULTS:

The mean serum 25(OH)D level was 30 (95% confidence interval [CI], 29-30) ng/mL during NHANES III and decreased to 24 (23-25) ng/mL during NHANES 2001-2004.

Accordingly, the prevalence of 25(OH)D levels of less than 10 ng/mL increased from 2% (95% CI, 2%-2%) to 6% (5%-8%), and 25(OH)D levels of 30 ng/mL or more decreased from 45% (43%-47%) to 23% (20%-26%).

The prevalence of 25(OH)D levels of less than 10 ng/mL in non-Hispanic blacks rose from 9% during NHANES III to 29% during NHANES 2001-2004,

with a corresponding decrease in the prevalence of levels of 30 ng/mL or more from 12% to 3%.

Differences by age strata (mean serum 25[OH]D levels ranging from 28-32 ng/mL) and sex (28 ng/mL for women and 32 ng/mL for men) during NHANES III equalized during NHANES 2001-2004 (24 vs 24 ng/mL for age and 24 vs 24 ng/mL for sex).

CONCLUSIONS:

National data demonstrate a marked decrease in serum 25(OH)D levels from the 1988-1994 to the 2001-2004 NHANES data collections.

Racial/ethnic differences have persisted and may have important implications for known health disparities.

Current recommendations for vitamin D supplementation are inadequate to address the growing epidemic of vitamin D insufficiency.

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Health Care, Vitamin D, and Indoor Tanning

Posted by D3forU on July 16, 2010

It is a shame that this Congress is doing everything backwards. moderate and controlled non-burning exposure to Sunshine would reduce Health Care costs, not add to it.

Vitamin D is produced in Human skin when exposed to UV rays, whether they come from the sun or an indoor sunbed.

There are millions of Americans who get burned, literally, from casual outdoor exposure on a daily basis. a recent study shows that up to 36% of US burn every year. There are no “Sunburn Police” at the local pools or beaches all summer, but every day you can see numbers of “Lobster Red” people after a day outside.

http://xr.com/36burn

The studies that make headlines recently do not bother to delve deeper into the numbers to see that those that work outdoors, or spend regular time outside actually reduce their risk for melanoma, a skin cancer mainly in Males and indoor workers.

People that use sunbeds are shown to have 90% higher levels of Vitamin D, 18% lowered PTH levels, and higher Bone density than those who do not.

http://xr.com/TangVitD

The actual numbers in melanoma are infinitesimal in relation to the bigger picture from under exposure to Nature’s own “Sunshine Vitamin” The health consequences of NOT having high Vitamin D levels can be up to measured in BILLIONS of DALY’s vs Millions from even today’s exposure levels.

UVR exposure is a minor contributor to the world’s disease burden, causing an estimated annual loss of 1.6 million DALYs; i.e. 0.1% of the total global disease burden. A markedly larger annual disease burden, 3.3 billion DALYs, might result from reduction in global UVR exposure to very low levels.

http://xr.com/LessD

Melanoma Mortality Rates have remained steady for Women for the past 30 years at a rate of 2/100,000 while Men have risen two-threefold in the same time frame. Women frequent tanning salons at a ratio of 4:1, shouldn’t the rate be reversed?

http://xr.com/30AllAge

In the most recent headline, the media neglected to see past the flash and see the study showed Lifetime routine exposure, outdoor activities, and outdoor jobs actually lowered the risk of melanoma, while use of chemical sunscreens raised the risks.

What stood out in this report was the fact that those with many moles the risk was raised 1,281%, having very fair skin raised the risk 450%, and Red hair raised the risks 253%. These are all characteristics of a Skin Type 1 which would not and should not look for additional sun exposure, indoors or outside.

http://xr.com/hysteria

Humans evolved under the sun. Mother Nature played a cruel joke in that the same UVB that produces vast amounts of Vitamin D in the skin can also burn and/or damage it with overexposure. Sunscreens have been in use for the past 40 years, and not surprisingly, by blocking Natures’ own protection, we may have caused many of the melanomas being seen.

http://xr.com/SSMel

Interestingly, the same sun that may cause melanoma may actually protect against the most serious cases.

A little bit of anything is usually good for us, but an overabundance may cause harm. Moderation is the key. Get regular sun exposure on as much body surface for a short period of time outdoors when you can, between the hours of 10A and 2P, when the sun is above 45°, typically between April and November at a line from Boston to Sacramento (40°N Lat).

If that’s not practical, Indoor tanning salons offer time controlled UV exposure that doesn’t vary with the time of day, season, cloud cover, ozone layer, or many other factors.

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The great health debate: Is Sunshine a Miracle Cure?

Posted by D3forU on July 16, 2010

Our bodies make Vitamin D when the sun shines, and new research suggests the positive effects on health are greater than we ever guessed. But too much sun causes skin cancer. It’s a dilemma provoking fierce discussion among scientists.

Sunlight in tree

For any expectant mother, a brief stroll in the summer sunshine would seem a pleasant diversion from the rigours of pregnancy, a chance to relax in the warmth and to take in a little fresh air. It is a harmless – but unimportant – activity, it would seem.

But there is more to such walks than was previously realised, it emerged last week. In a new study, Bristol University researchers revealed they had found out that sunny strolls have striking, long-lasting effects. They discovered that children born to women in late summer or in early autumn are, on average, about 5mm taller, and have thicker bones, than those born in late winter and early spring.

Nor was it hard to see the causal link, said team leader Professor Jon Tobias. The growth of our bones, even in the womb, depends on vitamin D which, in turn, is manufactured in the skin when sunlight falls on it.

Thus children born after their mothers have enjoyed a summer of sunny walks will have been exposed to more vitamin D and will have stronger bones than those born in winter or early spring. “Wider bones are thought to be stronger and less prone to breaking as a result of osteoporosis in later life, so anything that affects early bone development is significant,” said Tobias.

The study is important, for it indicates that women should consider taking vitamin D supplements during pregnancy to ensure their children reach full stature. However, the Bristol team’s findings go beyond this straightforward conclusion, it should be noted. Their work adds critical support to a controversial health campaign that suggests most British people are being starved of sunshine, and vitamin D – a process that is putting their lives at risk.

These campaigners point to a series of studies, based mainly on epidemiological evidence, that have recently linked vitamin D deficiency to illnesses such as diabetes, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and tuberculosis. Last week also saw George Ebers, professor of clinical neurology at Oxford University, unveil evidence to suggest such a deficiency during pregnancy and childhood could increase the risk that a child would develop multiple sclerosis.

The studies require rigorous follow-up research, scientists admit – but they have nevertheless provoked considerable new interest in vitamin D. Indeed, for some health experts, the substance has virtually become a panacea for all human ills. Dietary supplements should be encouraged for the elderly, the young and the sick, while skin cancer awareness programmes that urge caution over sunbathing should be scrapped, they insist. We need to bring a lot more sunshine into our lives, it is claimed.

But this unbridled enthusiasm has gone down badly with health officials concerned about soaring rates of melanomas in Britain, the result of over-enthusiastic suntanning by holidaymakers decades ago. Existing, restrictive recommendations for limits on sunbathing must be rigorously maintained, they argue, or melanoma death rates will rise even further.

So just how much sunlight is safe for us? And which is the greater risk: skin cancer or diseases triggered by vitamin D deficiency? Answers for these questions now cause major divisions among health experts.

In fact, vitamin D is not strictly a vitamin. Vitamins are defined as nutrients which can only be obtained from the food we eat and which are vital to our health. For example, vitamin C, which wards off scurvy and helps the growth of cartilage, is found in citrus fruits, while broccoli and spinach are rich in vitamin K, which plays an important role in preventing our blood from clotting. And while it is true that vitamin D is found in oily fish, cod liver oil, eggs and butter, our principal source is sunlight.

“Vitamin D should really be thought of as a hormone,” said Dr Peter Berry-Ottaway, of the Institute of Food Science and Technology, and an adviser to the EU on food safety. “It forms under the skin in reaction to sunlight. We do get some from our food but our principal source is the sun.’

The key component in sunlight that stimulates vitamin D production in our bodies is ultra-violet light of wavelengths between 290 and 315 nanometres. Crucially, this component of sunlight only reaches Britain during the months between April and October. “The rest of the year, between November and March, the sun is low in the horizon. Its light has to pass through much more of the atmosphere than in summer and doesn’t reach the ground,” said Cambridge nutrition expert Dr Inez Schoenmakers. “For half the year we cannot make vitamin D from sunlight, so what we make in summer has to do us for the whole year.”

In relatively sunny southern England, this is not a problem but in the north and in the cloudier west, noticeable health problems build up – particularly among ethnic minorities. People with dark skin are less able to manufacture vitamin D than those with pale skin and in places with relatively gloomy skies – cities such as Bradford or Glasgow, for example – the impact can be severe.

In 2007, the Department of Health revealed that up to one in 100 children born to families from ethnic minorities now suffer from rickets, a condition triggered by lack of vitamin D in which children develop a pronounced bow-legged gait. The disease once blighted lives in Victorian Britain but was eradicated by improved diets. Now it is making a major resurgence, a problem that has been further exacerbated in ethnic communities by women wearing hijabs that cover all of their bodies and block out virtually every beam of vitamin-stimulating sunshine.

A major health campaign, offering dietary advice and vitamin D supplements has since been launched. But for many doctors, it is not enough. The nation’s health service needs to re-evaluate completely its approach to vitamin D as a matter of urgency; establish new guidelines for taking supplements; and scrap most of the limits on sunbathing currently proposed by health bodies.

These calls have been made not because of concerns about rickets, however. They follow the appearance of studies from across the globe that suggest vitamin D plays a key role in the fight against heart disease, cancer, tuberculosis, diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Vitamin D is not so much an important component of our diets as a miracle substance, they believe. It costs nothing to make, just some time in the sun, and lasts in the body for months.

A classic example of the potential of vitamin D was provided by a study published in a US journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, last year. This revealed that people with higher levels of vitamin D were more likely to survive colon, breast and lung cancer. In the study, Richard Setlow, a biophysicist at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in the US and an expert on the link between solar radiation and skin cancer, calculated how much sunshine a person would get depending on the latitude on which they lived.

Setlow – who worked with colleagues at the Institute for Cancer Research in Oslo – also calculated the incidence and survival rates for various forms of internal cancers in people living at these different latitudes. Their results showed that in the northern hemisphere the incidence of colon, lung and breast cancer increased from south to north while people in southern latitudes were significantly less likely to die from these cancers than people in the north.

“Since vitamin D has been shown to play a protective role in a number of internal cancers and possibly a range of other diseases, it is important to study the relative risks to determine whether advice to avoid sun exposure may be causing more harm than good in some populations,” Setlow warned.

And then there is the impact of vitamin D levels on the heart. In a study published last year in the journal Circulation, scientists at the Harvard Medical School in Boston found that a deficiency of vitamin D increased people’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease. In addition, other studies have connected vitamin D deficiency to risks of succumbing to diabetes and TB.

And there was last week’s publication of the study by Professor Ebers which provided compelling evidence that lack of vitamin D triggers a rogue gene to turn against the body and attack nerve endings, a process that induces the disease multiple sclerosis. In each case, researchers urged that people ensure they take vitamin D supplements to help ward off such conditions.

But others believe such calls underestimate the problem. They point to a study, published in 2007, which indicates that more than 60 per cent of middle-aged British adults have less than optimal levels of vitamin D in their bodies in summer, while this figure rises to 90 per cent in winter. Given the links between deficiency and all those ailments, only a full-scale reappraisal of the vitamin’s role in British health will work, says Oliver Gillie, of the Health Research Forum.

In a report, Sunlight Robbery, he calls for the scrapping of Britain’s current SunSmart programme; the setting up of an international conference of doctors and specialists to establish vitamin D’s importance to health; promotion of the fortification of food with vitamin D: and the creation of a new committee whose membership would include representatives of groups of patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, cancer and other conditions linked to vitamin D.

But most controversial of all is his call for people to sunbathe far more frequently than currently advised. “It is time for the UK government to encourage people to sunbathe safely to reduce cancer risk,” he said.

Not surprisingly, the notion horrifies many health advisers. “There are now 9,000 new cases of melanoma in Britain every year and 2,000 deaths because people have sunbathed without proper care,” said Sara Hiom, director of health information for Cancer Research UK. “Figures have increased dramatically over the past 20 years and will continue to do so unless we are very careful.”

However, Hiom acknowledged that new studies did indicate that vitamin D deficiency was now linked to an increasing number of cancers and other diseases. “That is no excuse for behaving irresponsibly, however. People must avoided getting sunburned; stay out of the sun between 11am and 3pm even in this country in summer; and use factor 15 or stronger sunblock creams.”

In addition, other scientists cautioned that links between vitamin D deficiency with diseases like multiple sclerosis had yet to be proved. “People with low vitamin D may be more likely to have MS but that might simply happen because their condition makes it difficult to get out in the sunshine and make vitamin D in their bodies. We have yet to distinguish cause and effect in many of these cases,” said Dr Schoenmakers.

These points are crucial and suggest we need to be cautious about claims that vitamin D is capable of triggering miraculous cures. On the other hand, enough evidence is now emerging from laboratories round the world to indicate that a nutrient once thought to be a bit-player in the battle against disease, clearly has a key role to play in helping to maintain the general health of large numbers of the population of Britain.

LINK

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Lack of Sunshine Found to Trigger MS

Posted by D3forU on July 16, 2010

Research Finds People with Gene Variant who Lack Vitamin D, Produced From Sun Exposure, Can Develop Condition

Balmedie country park Scotland

Balmedie country park, Aberdeenshire. Scotland’s high incidence of MS cases could be linked to the cloudy climate. Photograph: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty

Women who are not exposed to sufficient sunshine in pregnancy may be at risk of giving birth to a child who will get multiple sclerosis in adulthood, research reveals today.

Oxford University researchers have identified a link between a shortage of the “sunshine vitamin” – vitamin D – and a specific gene which appears to be involved in the onset of the devastating and incurable disease.

Women are already urged to take folic acid in pregnancy to reduce the chances of a child being born with spina bifida. The research findings suggest that vitamin D could before long be advised for pregnant women as well – especially those who do not get much exposure to sunlight. The researchers think it is possible that vitamin D could play a part in other diseases whcih affect the immune system too.

“Our study implies that taking vitamin D supplements during pregnancy and the early years may reduce the risk of a child developing MS later in life,” said lead author Dr Sreeram Ramagopalan. “Vitamin D is a safe and relatively cheap supplement with substantial potential health benefits. There is accumulating evidence that it can reduce the risk of developing cancer and offer protection from other autoimmune diseases.”

Their work, published today in the journal PLoS Genetics, breaks new ground by revealing the interaction between a gene and an environmental factor – in this case, exposure to sunlight.

It has long been suspected that sunshine played a part in the condition’s development. MS, the most common disabling neurological condition, affects 85,000 mainly young adults in the UK and 2.5 million worldwide and is markedly more common in cloudy northern climates. Scotland has a significantly higher concentration of MS cases than England.

A gene variant known as DRB1*1501 has been implicated in MS. While one in 1000 people in the general population develop the disease, it is one in 300 among those who have one copy of this gene variant and one in 100 of those who have two copies.

The Oxford study has found a direct relationship between vitamin D, produced in the body as a result of sun exposure, and this gene variant. In effect, proteins activated by vitamin D in the body switch the gene on. It appears, they say, that if people get too little sunshine, the gene may not function properly.

This interaction between gene and environment – so-called “epigenetics” – is being seen as increasingly important by scientists: that genetic make-up is not set in stone from conception, but is influenced for better or worse by the world around us.

“Epigenetics will have important implications, not only for MS, but for other common diseases,” said Professor George Ebers, from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at Oxford, where the work was done. “For mothers, taking care of their health during their reproductive years may have beneficial effects on the health of their future children or even grandchildren.”

LINK

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Lack of Vitamin D Rampant in Infants and Teens

Posted by D3forU on July 16, 2010

Giving your children all they need to grow big and strong may not be as simple as a gummy vitamin and three square meals. They still may be susceptible to an epidemic that’s starting to gain the notice of pediatricians and bone doctors across the country: vitamin D deficiency.

Mike Stone joined a growing legion of children diagnosed with the condition when an X-ray of his 14-year-old bones revealed a skeleton so thin it appeared clear on film.

“My doctor thought the machine was broken and that they should take an X-ray on another one,” says Stone, 22, a recent graduate of Tufts University in Boston.

The machine wasn’t broken. Stone was seriously vitamin D deficient, and though he had felt a “snap” in his back — the impetus for the doctor’s visit — he had no fractures. But his bones had become perilously thin, 50% less dense than they should have been. His doctor immediately put him on vitamin D supplements to correct the problem, Stone says.

For years, doctors have been aware that older people tend to be low in vitamin D and need extra supplements to help keep bones strong, says Lisa Callahan, co-director of the Women’s Sports Medicine Center at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

Pediatricians had thought the problem had been solved among children with the vitamin D fortification of milk, cereal and other foods. But an ever-lengthening roster of studies is revealing vitamin D deficiency is more common than previously believed in youngsters, including breast-fed babies and teens.

“Vitamin D deficiency is much more of a health problem than anyone realized,” says Catherine Gordon, director of the bone health program at Children’s Hospital Boston. In the June issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Gordon and her colleagues found that 40% of infants and toddlers tested below average for vitamin D. In a previous study, Gordon and fellow researchers discovered that 42% of adolescents were vitamin D deficient.

“Vitamin D deficiency was twice as common in teens as we assumed it would be,” she says.

A review of vitamin D medical literature published last July in The New England Journal of Medicine by Michael Holick, professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at Boston University Medical School and director of the Bone Health Care Clinic there, indicated that numerous studies are showing vitamin D does much more than boost bone health in children and adults. In children, it can inhibit future hip fractures, and it may help reduce the risk of type 1 diabetes.

Sunlight, diet — particularly oily fish and enriched milk — and supplements are good sources of vitamin D, Holick says.

Vitamin D is different from other vitamins because though the body stores it, it needs ultraviolet B rays from the sun to activate it, says James Dowd, professor of medicine at Michigan State University and author of The Vitamin D Cure.

Fifteen minutes a day will do the trick, he says. When vitamin D is dispatched to the liver and kidneys, it is changed into forms that body tissues can use. It helps the body absorb and regulate calcium and promotes mineralization of teeth and bones. Current recommendations by the Institute of Medicine suggest 200 IUs of vitamin D a day for children and 400 IUs for adults, but Callahan, who serves on an institute committee that aims to update those guidelines, says she suggests higher levels to many of her patients, at least 800 to 1,000 IUs a day.

Overdosing on vitamin D is unlikely if you are obtaining it only from diet, Gordon says. But parents should consult their pediatrician before raiding pharmacy shelves for supplements because of different dosages and types. She also says the doctor might want to run a blood test because vitamin D deficiency is hard to detect.

“There aren’t any obvious early symptoms. It may be silent until it manifests in more serious ways, like rickets — weak bones and teeth — in children,” Gordon says.

Parents surprised by their children’s vitamin D deficiency diagnosis may ask why it occurs in a culture in which good nutrition seems a no-brainer. Experts say there may be a genetic link, but other factors also are at play.

“Breast milk is not D-rich, so rickets is seen more often in infants now that breast-feeding is popular again. It’s also not abundant in many foods,” says Tanya Edwards, head of the integrative medicine department at the Cleveland Clinic. Also, she says, children don’t play outside as much as they used to.

Society’s sunblock passion, though smart for skin health, also may be affecting vitamin D deficiency. Experts suggest at least 15 minutes of direct sun a day before slathering on sunscreen. But those at risk or with a history of skin cancer or with sun-sensitive skin conditions should check with their dermatologist first.

Dark-skinned people also are more at risk because they absorb UVBs less quickly than fair-skinned people, Edwards says.

Stone, who with brother Doug has produced an educational video about vitamin D for schools, says taking supplements religiously and ramping up his diet with lots of fish, milk and yogurt over the years has helped him grow normally and avoid bone and other problems as an adult.

But he also is careful not to overdose on calcium in the process, which can lead to kidney stones.

“I feel great,” says Stone, who is 5-foot-9 and weighs in at a slim but healthy 155 pounds. “I play tennis, squash, and I’m training for my first Boston Marathon next year.”

LINK

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Exercise, Tea and Vitamin D to Ward Off Dementia

Posted by D3forU on July 16, 2010

Improved living and diet habits — including lots of physical activity, regular tea-drinking and sufficient vitamin D levels — could reduce the risk of brain decline, according to three studies presented Sunday.

“These are encouraging,” says William Thies, chief medical and scientific officer of the Alzheimer’s Association. “These types of studies make people think, ‘Well gosh, maybe I can do something about this disease.’ ”

The studies were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Honolulu.

One of the studies is from the Framingham, Mass., cardiovascular risk study, in which researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, among others, tracked more than 1,200 elderly people over 20 years, 242 of whom developed dementia.

The researchers found that participants who had moderate to heavy levels of physical activity had about a 40% lower risk of developing any type of dementia. Those who reported the least amount of activity were 45% more likely to develop dementia compared with those who logged higher levels of activity.

In a second study, including data on more than 4,800 men and women ages 65 and older, participants were followed for up to 14 years. Tea drinkers had less mental decline than non-tea drinkers. Those who drank tea one to four times a week had average annual rates of decline 37% lower than people who didn’t drink tea.

Coffee didn’t show any influence except at the highest levels of consumption, researchers say. Author Lenore Arab of UCLA says, “Interestingly, the observed associations are unlikely to be related to caffeine, which is present in coffee at levels two to three times higher than in tea.”

In a third study, British researchers looked at vitamin D’s effect on brain health. They examined data from 3,325 U.S. adults ages 65 and older from the NHANES III study. Vitamin D levels were measured by blood test, and cognitive tests were administered. Odds of cognitive impairment were about 42% higher in those deficient in vitamin D, and 394% higher in people severely deficient.

“Vitamin D is neuro-protective in a number of ways, including the protection of the brain’s blood supply and the clearance of toxins,” says author David Llewellyn of the University of Exeter Peninsula Medical School.

“More and more studies are suggesting that lifestyle changes may be able to silence the expression of risk genes, a phenomenon called epigenetics,” says Duke University‘s Murali Doraiswamy, an expert on aging. He says learning how to tap into that is going to be a high priority.

LINK

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Put Down That Sunscreen

Posted by D3forU on July 16, 2010

Scientists have long known that the incidence of multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease, is higher in northern portions of the United States than in the South. Now clues are emerging as to why this regional variation exists.

A key risk factor may be low levels of vitamin D, which is produced naturally when skin is exposed to sunlight. One of the properties of vitamin D is to suppress immune response, so it makes sense that people deficient in this substance may be more prone to suffer from an autoimmune disease.

Investigators confirmed this association using Army and Navy records of physical disability to identify patients with multiple sclerosis and then examined blood samples taken earlier and stored in the Department of Defense Serum Repository.

Munger, K. L., et al. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and risk of multiple sclerosis. Journal of the American Medical Association 296:2832-2838 (December 20, 2006)

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It may be vitamin D’s day in the sun

Posted by D3forU on July 16, 2010

It may have untapped potential in fighting or preventing disease. But are we getting enough of it in our systems?

Two advocacy groups have sprung up in the United States to promote the substance. Food industry executives are exploring ways to fortify more products. And PubMed, an international database of medical literature, shows that 2,274 studies referencing the vitamin have been published — just this year.

“Vitamin D is one hot topic,” says Connie Weaver, a professor of foods and nutrition at Purdue University in Indiana.

More recent research shows that receptors for it are found in almost every organ and tissue system in the body, suggesting that deficiencies may affect many types of cell functions.

When exposed to sunlight, the skin makes the vitamin, but not everyone spends the five minutes a day or so outside that is necessary for synthesis — and many more people today wear sunscreen to prevent skin cancer.

“A large portion of people fall into the at-risk category, and they would benefit from being brought out of that category,” Fleet says. “The question is: Is the current requirement enough to keep most people out of the at-risk category?”

A study of 13,000 Americans, published in March in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found that 50% to 75% have suboptimal levels by current standards. A level of 20 nanograms per milliliter of 25-hydroxyvitamin D — the form most commonly measured in blood — has traditionally been considered sufficient.

Most people 50 and older aren’t meeting the current recommendations, Weaver says.

“The largest source is sunshine, but not everyone can depend on that,” Weaver says. “The elderly, dark-skinned people, higher-latitude dwellers all have trouble getting enough from sun.” In darker-skinned people, melatonin in the skin blocks absorption of the ultraviolet rays needed to make the vitamin; older people don’t appear to synthesize it from the sun as well as younger people.

Some scientists argue that levels of 40 to 60 ng/mL would be far better for disease prevention. That would require daily intake much higher than the current 200 to 600 IU.

The July issue of the Annals of Epidemiology(09)X0007-4, devoted to vitamin D research, links the vitamin to lower risks of cancers of the breast, colon, ovaries and prostate. Animal and lab studies also demonstrate its importance in many of the cellular mechanisms that control cancer, such as cell growth, cell death, inflammation and DNA repair.

Five studies on colorectal cancer and breast cancer, taken together, showed that people with levels higher than 34 to 52 ng/mL had a 50% reduced cancer risk, says Cindy D. Davis, a researcher at the National Cancer Institute’s Nutritional Science Research Group.

Such studies are not proof that the vitamin influences disease development, points out Dr. Karen E. Hansen, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin who studies bone health. “People with higher vitamin D may just be healthier for other reasons,” she says.

But evidence linking higher blood levels to diabetes and cardiovascular disease is also mounting. A study in December in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that deficiency may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Other studies have tied lower levels to an increased risk of hypertension, diabetes, stroke and congestive heart failure.

Even for bone health, some studies suggest that about 700 to 800 IU a day are needed to prevent fractures in people over 50, Hansen says. She recommends 800 IU a day, with calcium, to her patients.

Already, however, the American Society of Clinical Oncology has recommended a higher intake for breast cancer patients who are deficient.

In October, the American Academy of Pediatrics said children should get 400 IU a day, double the current recommendation.

In November, 18 University of California researchers issued a statement saying 2,000 IU is appropriate for most people.

“I think some of the more vocal advocates are pushing the medical community to move forward” before adequate research is completed, Fleet says.

Dozens of more scientifically rigorous studies are in progress that could help resolve the questions about how much people should consume.

LINK

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Vitamin D Status in Psoriasis Patients During Different Treatments with Phototherapy.

Posted by D3forU on July 14, 2010

J Photochem Photobiol B. 2010 May 26. [Epub ahead of print]

Osmancevic A, Landin-Wilhelmsen K, Larkö O, Krogstad AL.

Dept of Dermatology, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Phototherapy (broadband UVB (BUVB), narrowband UVB (NBUVB) and heliotherapy) is commonly used treatment modalities for widespread psoriasis. Vitamin D3, cholecalciferol, is produced in the epidermis by ultraviolet radiation (290-315nm) of 7-dehydrocholesterol. 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D [1,25(OH)(2)D] are the major circulating metabolites.

Sun exposure is the strongest factor influencing 25(OH)D.

The similar wavelength spectrum of UVB responsible for D vitamin synthesis (BUVB, 280-315nm) has been successfully used for years to treat psoriasis.

PURPOSE: The aim was:

  1. (1) To increase the knowledge about the effects of phototherapy on vitamin D production during treatment of psoriasis.
  1. (2) To examine if there were differences between the effect of BUVB, NBUVB and heliotherapy on vitamin D synthesis in psoriasis patients.

METHODS: Serum concentrations of 25(OH)D, 1,25(OH)(2)D, PTH, calcium and creatinine, measured before and after phototherapy in white

Caucasian patients with moderate to severe active plaque psoriasis, were aggregated from three studies.

RESULTS: Psoriasis improved in all patients, with a reduction in PASI ((Psoriasis Area and Severity Index) score of about 75% on all regimes.

Serum 25(OH)D increased and PTH decreased after the phototherapy.

The increase in 25(OH)D was higher in the BUVB treated patients compared with NBUVB. There was no correlation between the dose of UVB and the increase of 25(OH)D.

CONCLUSION: UVB and heliotherapy improved the psoriasis score, increased the serum 25(OH)D levels and reduced the serum PTH concentrations.

Vitamin D production in psoriasis patients increased less with NBUVB than with BUVB phototherapy.

Copyright © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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Vitamin D InfoGraphic

Posted by D3forU on July 14, 2010

Link to Full Size

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Reptiles are Smarter than Humans.

Posted by D3forU on July 9, 2010

Physiol Biochem Zool. 2009 May-Jun;82(3):218-25.

Panther chameleons, Furcifer pardalis, behaviorally regulate optimal exposure to UV depending on dietary vitamin D3 status.

Karsten KB, Ferguson GW, Chen TC, Holick MF.

Department of Biology, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, Texas 76129, USA. k.karsten@tcu.edu

Abstract

Reptiles may bask for reasons other than thermoregulation. One alternative is to regulate homeostasis of vitamin D(3), a hormone essential to the health of many reptiles.

Maintenance of vitamin D(3) homeostasis requires either regulation of exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) or ingested vitamin D(3). However, the prey items of most vertebrates tend to be low in vitamin D(3). Thus, basking may be the primary opportunity for vitamin D(3) regulation.

We tested the hypothesis that panther chameleons (Furcifer pardalis) behaviorally regulate exposure to UV in natural sunlight with high precision, accuracy, and effectiveness.

Panther chameleons with low dietary vitamin D(3) intake significantly increased exposure to UV in natural sunlight compared to those with high dietary vitamin D(3) intake.

All lizards fed low dietary vitamin D(3) regulated within optimal UV levels with extreme effectiveness (ability to regulate within optimal UV levels relative to available UV).

Chameleons of both dietary treatments regulated UV exposure with great precision, exhibiting little variation among individuals within treatments.

Our results add to a growing body of literature that empirically demonstrates the importance of basking for nonthermoregulatory purposes and, more specifically, as an integral mechanism for the regulation of a vital hormone, vitamin D(3).

PMID: 19335229 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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Follow the Money. Tan Tax vs. “BoTax” Racist? Discrimination?

Posted by D3forU on July 9, 2010

Below are many reasons given for removing the “BoTax” from the Health Care Bill late last year. You should note the common theme that it was successfully lobbied that this would discriminate against women. I can tell you that over 70% of indoor tanning clients are Female, 2/3’s of all salons are independently owned by women, and 98%+ all make less than $250,000 per year.

So how does this not discriminate against a small segment of the population, destroy small businesses, and go against the President’s explicit statement that there would be no new taxes on anyone making less then $250K?

Thanks to the lobbying efforts of the ASPS, Allergan, and plastic surgery portals such as RealSelf.com, women can continue to  improve their cosmetic appearance without taxation! For the past few weeks, the proposed 5% tax on cosmetic surgery became known as the Botax. The cosmetic surgery tax would have discriminated against women, since more than 90% of all cosmetic surgery is performed on women.

A last minute amendment to the new Obamacare Health Care bill, HR 3590, dropped the 5% cosmetic surgery tax , but included a 10% tax on tanning services. This tan tax was put in as a substitute for the initially proposed 5% tax on cosmetic surgery.

The exclusion of tax on cosmetic surgery is a win for women and we salute our lobbyist for a job well done!  While we are happy about our own outcome, we can’t help but wonder if this new tax will stifle the tanning industry.

http://www.cosmeticsurg.net/blog/2009/12/21/senate-drops-5-tax-on-cosmetic-surgery-adds-10-tan-tax/

Erasing the ‘Botax’ – On Nov. 21, shortly after the conclusion of the annual meeting, a 5 percent cosmetic surgery tax (the so-called “Botax”) was written into the Senate health care reform bill. Seen as a way to help pay for the enormous costs of the proposal, the tax was viewed initially as a “done deal” – after all, who would oppose a tax on “vanity surgery for the idle rich”? We immediately launched a grass-roots effort to educate senators and the public about the true scope of aesthetic surgery, the middle-class female population that would actually be impacted the most, and the very unfavorable experience with a similar tax in New Jersey.

http://www.psnextra.org/Columns/ASPS-Presidents-Message.html

This inappropriate and unfair “sin” tax has reared its ugly head again, only now in the U.S. Senate. It is amazing how our government looks for any way it can to creatively take money from the citizens in order to fund its excessive spending.
In my practice, 98% of my patients are women so this is clearly discrimination against them. Secondly, not all cosmetic patients are as wealthy as congress would like you to believe. The average income of cosmetic surgery patients is under $60,000 so this is not a tax on the super-rich but rather on normal every day citizens. By Richard P. Rand, MD – Seattle Plastic Surgeon

There are many problems in this type of taxation proposed by the U.S. Senate to the tax code. This is an unfair discriminatory tax against women since women represent 80% of plastic surgery practices. By William Portuese, MD – Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
Patients who have had plastic surgery know that the improvement in their self esteem and in many cases their social or professional positions as a result of plastic surgery should not be penalized by by what is essentially a “morality tax” on women. By Brent Moelleken, MD – Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon

Hopefully plastic surgery spokeswoman Ms. Joan Rivers will be able to convince the lawmakers to defeat the bill based on the same arguments and cries that our country’s founding father’s used in Boston, “Taxation without representation!”. By Michael A. Persky, MD – Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon

This tax additionally discriminates against women and the middle class, who are the two groups most likely to undergo aesthetic surgery By Adam David Lowenstein, MD – Santa Barbara Plastic Surgeon

The third is that any activity that is taxed will decrease in frequency. Fourth, females affected by a wide margin By John P. Stratis, MD – Harrisburg Plastic Surgeon

There has been lots of valid arguments presented before I had an opportunity to make mine. I raise questions whether a selected group can be subjected to increased taxation. Taxation by our constitution should not be discriminatory yet this one appers to be discriminatory for geneder, for specialty and selectivley affects one group more than others. By Julian Henley, MD – New Haven Facial Plastic Surgeon

No surprise that lawyers fees were not taxed, ironic given the number of lawyers making the laws. By Brent Moelleken, MD – Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon

The Senate has clearly chosen expediency over fairness with this tax. The health care bill fails to address the real financial and decision making problems in health care: the massive administrative cost of health insurance companies, the bloated profit margins of health insurance companies, the medical decision making practiced by insurance companies, the cost of defensive medicine (vis a vis the lack of meaningful tort reform), and the cost of pharmaceuticals.

Instead, the Senate has decided to appease a major financial lobby, pushing through a bill that will only benefit insurance companies. In so doing, our elected representatives have decided to choose arbitrary and capricious means to pay for it. Given the bungled mess that this health care bill is, I wouldn’t be surprised if the cosmetic tax was filled with loopholes.  By Stephen Prendiville, MD – Ft. Myers Facial Plastic Surgeon

You have hit the nail on the head. This is a tax on vulnerable women who have just been laid off. Trying to bolster their applications for new jobs, some have elected to try Botox (or whatever) to compete with younger competition. Why be punitive? These women should be encouraged. Michael C. Pickart, M.D., F.A.C.S.

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Take a Pill, A Little Sun’s OK, but Tanning Beds Will Kill You?

Posted by D3forU on July 8, 2010

“DO NOT try to get a tan by visiting a tanning studio. The rays from their UV lamps are extremely harmful and the tan produced does not have the protective effect of a sunlight-induced tan.” This is a false and deceptive statement.

Tanning beds typically have an output range of 3-5% UVB vs UVA, the same ratio as outdoor sunlight. They provide the same photo-protective tan as outdoor exposure can. This can be measured by the amount of 25(OH)3 (Vitamin D3) circulating in the body, just as you would expect from moderate outdoor exposure.

A recent study showed that indoor tanners had vitamin D levels 90% higher than non-tanners, their PTH levels were 17% lower, and bone density was significantly higher.

Tanning is associated with optimal vitamin D status (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration) and higher bone mineral density. Tangpricha V, Turner A, Spina C, Decastro S, Chen TC, Holick MF. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Dec;80(6):1645-9.PMID: 15585781

Here are 9 other recent peer-reviewed papers on the topic of artificial ultraviolet sources (tanning beds) and their benefits.

In defense of the sun: An estimate of changes in mortality rates in the United States if mean serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were raised to 45 ng/mL by solar ultraviolet-B irradiance. Grant WB. Dermatoendocrinol. 2009 Jul;1(4):207-14.PMID: 20592792

Sunbeds as vitamin D sources. Moan J, Lagunova Z, Cicarma E, Aksnes L, Dahlback A, Grant WB, Porojnicu AC. Photochem Photobiol. 2009 Nov-Dec;85(6):1474-9.PMID: 19788534

Variability of pre-vitamin D(3) effectiveness of UV appliances for skin tanning. Sayre RM, Dowdy JC, Shepherd JG. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2010 Apr 14. 25-Hydroxyvitamin D, cholesterol, and ultraviolet irradiation. Carbone LD, Rosenberg EW, Tolley EA, Holick MF, Hughes TA, Watsky MA, Barrow KD, Chen TC, Wilkin NK, Bhattacharya SK, Dowdy JC, Sayre RM, Weber KT. Metabolism. 2008 Jun;57(6):741-8.PMID: 18502255

25-Hydroxyvitamin D, cholesterol, and ultraviolet irradiation. Carbone LD, Rosenberg EW, Tolley EA, Holick MF, Hughes TA, Watsky MA, Barrow KD, Chen TC, Wilkin NK, Bhattacharya SK, Dowdy JC, Sayre RM, Weber KT. Metabolism. 2008 Jun;57(6):741-8.PMID: 18502255

Ultraviolet irradiation corrects vitamin D deficiency and suppresses secondary hyperparathyroidism in the elderly. Chel VG, Ooms ME, Popp-Snijders C, Pavel S, Schothorst AA, Meulemans CC, Lips P. J Bone Miner Res. 1998 Aug;13(8):1238-42.PMID: 9718191

Tanning can be an alternative source of vitamin d in high risk populations. Chandra P, Agarwal M, Sharma SG, Basra S. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2008 Feb;54(1):105. No abstract available. PMID: 18388416

Addressing the health benefits and risks, involving vitamin D or skin cancer, of increased sun exposure. Moan J, Porojnicu AC, Dahlback A, Setlow RB. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Jan 15;105(2):668-73. Epub 2008 Jan 7.PMID: 18180454

Treatment of vitamin D deficiency with UV light in patients with malabsorption syndromes: a case series. Chandra P, Wolfenden LL, Ziegler TR, Tian J, Luo M, Stecenko AA, Chen TC, Holick MF, Tangpricha V. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 2007 Oct;23(5):179-85.PMID: 17803596

Reintroduction of a classic vitamin D ultraviolet source. Sayre RM, Dowdy JC, Shepherd JG. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2007 Mar;103(3-5):686-8. Epub 2007 Feb 12.PMID: 17293107

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Tanning beds: What do the numbers really mean?

Posted by D3forU on July 1, 2010

Tanning beds: What do the numbers really mean?

May. 7th, 2010 by Pia Christensen

This is a guest post from Ivan Oransky, M.D., editor of Reuters Health and AHCJ’s treasurer, has written at my invitation.

May has been declared “Melanoma Awareness Month” or “Skin Cancer Awareness Month“ – depending on which group is pitching you – and reporters are doubtlessly receiving press releases and announcements from a number of groups, including the Melanoma Research Foundation, the Skin Cancer Foundation, hospitals, doctors and other organizations.

Those press releases often point to the World Health Organization, which reports that “use of sunbeds before the age of 35 is associated with a 75% increase in the risk of melanoma” – a statistic often repeated in news stories about tanning beds.

But what does that really mean? Is it 75 percent greater than an already-high risk, or a tiny one? If you read the FDA’s “Indoor Tanning: The Risks of Ultraviolet Rays,” or a number of other documents from the WHO and skin cancer foundations, you won’t find your actual risk.

That led AHCJ member Hiran Ratnayake to look into the issue in March for The (Wilmington, Del.) News Journal, after Delaware passed laws limiting teens’ access to tanning salons. The 75 percent figure is based on a review of a number of studies, Ratnayake learned. The strongest such study was one that followed more than 100,000 women over eight years.

But as Ratnayake noted, that study “found that less than three-tenths of 1 percent who tanned frequently developed melanoma while less than two-tenths of 1 percent who didn’t tan developed melanoma.” That’s actually about a 55 percent increase, but when the study was pooled with others, the average was a 75 percent increase. In other words, even if the risk of melanoma was 75 percent greater than two-tenths of one percent, rather than 55 percent greater, it would still be far below one percent.

For some perspective on those numbers, Ratnayake interviewed Lisa Schwartz, M.D.,M.S., whose work on statistical problems in studies and media reports is probably familiar to many AHCJ members.

“Melanoma is pretty rare and almost all the time, the way to make it look scarier is to present the relative change, the 75 percent increase, rather than to point out that it is still really rare,” Schwartz, a general internist at Veterans Affairs Medical Center in White River Junction, Vt., told him.

In a nutshell, the difference between skin doctors’ point of view and Schwartz’s is the difference between relative risk and absolute risk.

Absolute risk just tells you the chance of something happening, while relative risk tells you how that risk compares to another risk, as a ratio. If a risk doubles, for example, that’s a relative risk of 2, or 200 percent. If it halves, it’s .5, or 50 percent.

Generally, when you’re dealing with small absolute risks, as we are with melanoma, the relative risk differences will seem much greater than the absolute risk differences. You can see how if someone is lobbying to ban something – or, in the case of a new drug, trying to show a dramatic effect – they would probably want to use the relative risk.

This is not an argument for or against tanning beds. It’s an argument for clear explanations of the data behind policy decisions. For some people, the cosmetic benefits of tanning beds – and the benefit of vitamin D, for which there are, of course, other sources – might be worth a tiny increase in the risk of melanoma.

For others, any increased risk of skin cancer is unacceptable. (And of course, for the tanning industry, the benefits can be measured in other ways – dollars.) But if reporters leave things at “a 75 percent increase,” you’re not giving your readers the most important information they need to judge for themselves.

So when you read a study that says something doubles the risk of some terrible disease, ask: Doubles from what to what?

“You can see how if someone is lobbying to ban something – or, in the case of a new drug, trying to show a dramatic effect – they would probably want to use the relative risk.”

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