Saturday, September 3, 2005

Sunlight Robbery: A Critical Study of the UK Health Policy on Sunbathing

Some interesting light reading for those of you who enjoy getting out onto the beach and working on your tan. The author of this study is highly critical of the UK Ministry of Health's policy recommendations to the public on sun exposure; arguing that the policy is based on the SunSmart program that was developed for the Australian counterpart and that people in the northern lattitudes just do not get enough sun.

The author even goes so far as to suggest that sunbathing in the nude is that healthful approach and should be practiced . . . an endoresment for the naturist lifestyle, in a way.

The study is 47 pages long in a PDF format. You can download it here, or by clicking the title link. Maybe you should read it this weekend while we crisp our skins at Sauvies . . .

2) Regular sunbathing needed for optimum health
The SunSmart campaign fails to explain that regular sun exposure is needed in summer in the British Isles so that vitamin D stores may be replenished after the winter. Vitamin D levels in people living in the British Isles are generally low and sun exposure is of vital importance to maintain these levels. Some 80-90% of our vitamin D comes from the sun.

Exposure of the naked body to the sun for 20 minutes (10 minutes each side) at midday in midsummer in the UK will provide maximum vitamin D synthesis. Less time should be spent in the sun if there is any baking or burning sensation. People with very fair skins may be able to tolerate only five minutes (or less on first exposure) in the midday sun in the UK. Nevertheless such brief exposure is important for them and will generate a substantial amount of vitamin D. Under optimum conditions longer than 20 minutes exposure will not produce any more vitamin D.

In fact optimum conditions for vitamin D synthesis are seldom achieved in the UK because of cloud cover. To obtain good exposure of the skin to UV light and obtain good vitamin D synthesis (while taking care to avoid any baking or burning sensation) longer than half an hour will often need to be spent in the sun in the UK. These facts should be addressed in a public health programme concerned with sunlight.
. . .
Part 2: Vitamin D and chronic disease
Sceptics may find it difficult to believe that the many diseases listed below can all be influenced by deficiency of just one ‘vitamin’. In fact vitamin D is different from many other vitamins. Although vitamin D has become known as a vitamin through its discovery in food, most of our supply comes from sunlight rather than food. Actually vitamin D is better described as a steroid hormone. Vitamin D is now known to have many effects other than those on bone and is synthesised at numerous sites throughout the body in many tissues and organs.

. . . and the study goes on to examine the effects of Vitamin D deficiency on:
  • Nervous system diseases including not only schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis but bipolar disorder, autism, Alzheimer’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Diabetes type 1 and 2
  • Obesity and weight control
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Muscle weakness and balance
  • Cardiovascular disease and heart failure
  • Cancers, Psoriasis and Infections (Vitamin D boosts immune system response)
  • Polycystic ovary disease, menstrual problems and fertility
  • Crohn’s and other inflammatory bowel diseases
  • Bone disease: Rickets, osteomalacia, osteoporosis
  • Dental decay

Well, well, well. Who knew that prancing about naked in the sun was actually so good for you? LOL

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