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PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2010 10:13 am 
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Supplements and sunshine

Have you ever wondered why we have an easier time staying healthy during the long, sunny days of summer, but when rain comes to stay for a few months we start getting sick? Scientists in recent years have determined that one reason for the increased risk of illness in winter is the relationship between your immune system and Vitamin D3.

The immune system is the body's Department of Defense, with two divisions that work together to protect us.

Innate immunity is responsible for immediate action, first using the skin as a barrier, and then sending chemicals and cells to attack foreign invaders. Innate immunity is activated by antigens — proteins that are present on bacteria, viruses, pollen and other foreign invaders. This is the part of our immune system that keeps us from catching every cold and virus we come in contact with.

Adaptive immunity is more complex and quite specific. Once an individual antigen has been processed and recognized, the adaptive system sends out an army of cells specifically designed to attack that particular antigen. This part of the immune system also has a memory that makes future responses against antigens more efficient.

Vitamin D3 is essential fuel for the immune system. Ingested or absorbed, Vitamin D3 is metabolized by the body into a steroid hormone called calcitriol. Calcitriol acts on immune cells, causing them to manufacture and release an antimicrobial protein called cathelicidin.

A key component of the innate immunity system, cathelicidin is essential in protecting us against infectious diseases. It deactivates bacteria and viruses before they can become infections.

If cathelicidin is the body's internal antimicrobial, we need plenty of Vitamin D3 to support its production. Our primary natural source of Vitamin D3 is the sun. But from November through February, here in Northern California the sun is quite low in the sky. During these months the angle of UVB sun rays is too low to make it through the ozone layer, so our skin cannot synthesize Vitamin D3. And less D3 means less cathelicidin, which decreases the body's ability to fend off infections.

Vitamin D3's effect is not limited to its enhancement of the innate immune system. Many autoimmune diseases, such as Type I diabetes, are caused by the adaptive system inappropriately attacking normal cells. Adequate levels of D3 appear to suppress the adaptive immune system from overreacting. Low levels of D3 have been clearly linked to an increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease and other autoimmune dysfunctions.

Even though the lack of Vitamin D3 may be more apparent in the winter months, many of us are deficient year-round. The use of sunblock to protect us from skin cancer, lifestyles and latitudes that limit exposure to UVB rays and inadequate dietary sources of D3 all lead to chronic deficiencies. The more we learn about Vitamin D3, the more important supplements become.

The right dose of D3 is not the same for everyone. Dosage depends on need — if you are deficient, pregnant, nursing, or have other special health needs, you need a higher dose of supplements than someone who already has adequate stores.

The best, most accurate, way to establish your personal need for D3 is to get a 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OH) blood test. Although many laboratories still consider levels above 30ng/ml normal, recent studies are suggesting levels between 50-80ng/ml year round are minimally adequate. At levels below 50ng/ml, the body uses up D3 as fast as you can make it. This leaves none in storage for times of increased need, like when you are exposed to colds and other viruses.

If you don't know your status, it is still safe to take supplements. Daily oral intakes of D3 as high as 10,000 IU are safe, but may not be necessary. Many take 1,000-5,000 IU every day and feel the benefit almost immediately.

Support both arms of your immune system by providing it with adequate amounts of Vitamin D3. The benefits are many, and one of the most evident may be fewer colds during the winter months and overall better health year-round.

Dr. Stacey Kerr, a longtime Sonoma County family physician, graduated from UC Davis Medical School and is certified in her specialty by the American Board of Family Medicine. Her columns are not intended as a substitute for hand-on medical advice or treatment. Consult your health care provider before adhering to any recommendations in this column. E-mail comments to drkerr@the-doctors-inn.com.

http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20 ... ur-health-


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 9:56 am 
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Scientists look into 'super sunscreen'

A new "super sunscreen" may be necessary to reduce Australia's 900 melanoma deaths a year.

Scientists at the University of Queensland are investigating the effectiveness of highly protective sunscreens and whether a more potent version was required.

Dr Elke Hacker said the study would be the first human trial examining the effect of sunlight on melanocytes - melanin-producing cells in the skin - and whether SPF 30-Plus sunscreen offered an effective barrier to damaging UV radiation.

"Melanocytes are the pigmented cells of the skin that give skin its colour and are also the precursors to melanoma," said Dr Hacker, who is a post doctoral fellow with QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation.

"We know that the risks of melanoma are far greater for fair-skinned people with more moles than those who have darker skin and fewer moles.

"But what we don't know is what happens to melanocytes following exposure to sunlight and whether the use of sunscreen impacts on these melanocytes."

Dr Hacker said if conventional sunscreens were found to be not potent enough, the study could point to the development of "super sunscreens" capable of boosting the protection of melanocytes.

The research would also probe the way people with different skin types responded to sunlight, she said.

"We will also be looking at whether sun exposure to melanocytes has a different response in fair skinned people compared to those who are more naturally tanned," Dr Hacker said.

Brisbane-based recruits are now sought for the study, which will involve a controlled exposure to the equivalent of 20 to 25 minutes of Queensland sunshine.

Dr Hacker said despite ongoing campaigns to reduce sun exposure and wear sunscreen, more than 8,000 Australians were still diagnosed with invasive melanoma every year.

"By better understanding how sunlight causes melanoma, we hope to develop more effective prevention strategies to control the disease," she said.

http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-na ... -ro3u.html

[comment - this is not a good solution - being sunsmart is about spending the right amount of time in the sun and the rest in the shade]


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 11:21 am 
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D-Fense: Powerful Vitamin Promotes Health

Dr. Jay Ginther had been treating patients for vitamin D deficiencies for several months before he realized that he, too, probably needed more of the nutrient.

"Vitamin D comes from the sunshine, but unfortunately, if you don't live in the tropics you can't get vitamin D all year round," said Ginther, director of the Cedar Valley Bone Health Institute in Waterloo. "Right now in (early springtime in) Iowa, about 80 percent of us are deficient."

The vitamin, a pre-hormone, has recently received increased attention from the medical community. About 75 percent of U.S. adults and teens do not get enough of the substance, according to a 2009 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Without adequate levels of the vitamin, the human body cannot properly absorb calcium, a key component in bone health. Deficiencies in the nutrient can also negatively affect muscle strength and balance, as well as cause fibromyalgia-like symptoms and nerve damage.

Yet vitamin D screening is not part of a routine physical. Dr. Ara Jenevizian, a family practice physician at Covenant Clinic, said those concerned about their levels should ask their health care provider for the blood test.

Some researchers believe that 15 to 30 minutes of exposure to sunlight two to three times a week is enough to obtain adequate vitamin D, Jenevizian said. That standard, and whether the recommendation could lead to an increased risk in skin cancer, will be reviewed this fall by the National Institutes for Health.

"Everybody is waiting at this time for these studies that are underway to finish and come to a final conclusion," said Jenevizian. "There are major questions about Vitamin D because so many studies have said it is much more important than we had thought in the past."

In recent years, deficiencies in the vitamin have been linked to increased risk of autoimmune diseases, multiple sclerosis, asthma attacks, Alzheimer's disease, seasonal affective disorder and several types of cancer.

"Usually the ultimate effect of vitamin D (deficiency) expresses itself, unfortunately, in serious conditions," Jenevizian said.

For that reason, Ginther treats his vitamin D-deficient patients with high-dose supplements. In the northern climates it's nearly impossible to get enough of substance -- available only during the spring and summer -- from sunlight, he said. And although oily fish like sardines and salmon contain Vitamin D, few people are able to acquire appropriate amounts of vitamin D from diet alone.

Adults with sufficient amounts of vitamin D in their body should take 2,000 units of the substance daily. For those with a deficit, Ginther recommends 50,000 units three times a week until the body's stores are replenished.

Ginther started treating patients for vitamin D deficiencies, which can cause osteoporosis, about five years ago. In 2007 he tested the levels of every person he admitted to the hospital for fractures. It was May before he found a patient with a normal Vitamin D reading.

"In the last couple years we've started realizing just how important vitamin D is to our health," Ginther said. "People are beginning to pay attention to it."

http://www.cancercompass.com/cancer-new ... /33272.htm


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2010 7:46 am 
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Vitamin D may save 40,000 Canadian lives per year

Inadequate levels of vitamin D may be causing about 37,000 premature deaths in Canada and costing the country billions of dollars, according to a new review.

Writing in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, researchers led by William Grant from the Sunlight, Nutrition, and Health Research Center (SUNARC) in San Francisco report that the economic burden was also decrease if vitamin D levels were improved, and would save about $14.4 billion.

“The results of this study strongly suggest that the personal and economic burden of disease in Canada could be significantly reduced if the mean serum 25(OH)D level was increased from its current level of 67 nmol/L to the optimal level of 105nmol/L,” wrote the researchers.

“These results should increase interest by individuals, researchers, organizations, and agencies in Canada in assessing the health benefits of higher vitamin D production and intake and modifying practices and recommendations accordingly,” they added.

The study was funded by the Vitamin D Society (Canada), the UV Foundation (US), the Sunlight Research Forum (The Netherlands), Bio-Tech-Pharmacal (US), Dairy Farmers, Yoplait, and IADSA.

The lowdown on D

Vitamin D deficiency in adults is reported to precipitate or exacerbate osteopenia, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, fractures, common cancers, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases and cardiovascular diseases. There is also some evidence that the vitamin may reduce the incidence of several types of cancer and type-1 diabetes.

The science supporting the muscle function of vitamin D, as well as the vitamin’s role in immune health, is sufficiently robust to have merited a positive opinion from the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA).

Despite such proclamations of support, many people across the world are not getting enough vitamin D. Data obtained from Statistics Canada allowed Grant and his co-workers to estimate that improved vitamin D levels would reduce the incidence of chronic disease and could reduce mortality by 16 percent, or 37,000 fewer deaths.

This would alleviate the economic burden by about 7 percent, according to data from Health Canada, or $14.4 billion “less the cost of the program”, they said.

The times they may be a-changing

The influential Institute of Medicine (IOM) is conducting a review of the available vitamin D science and is due to deliver its findings this summer. Many expect the IOM to recommend RDIs much above the current levels of 400IU. Oprah has been telling her viewers the RDI should be 2000IU or more.

The IOM may also revise upper safe levels (USLs) with some saying 10,000IU per day reflects the scientific literature – this would be a great boon to supplement manufacturers seeking to meet demand for high-dose products.

http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Hea ... s-per-year


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2010 7:52 am 
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Shining Light On The Health Benefits Of Vitamin D

Vitamin D has received a lot of positive attention over the last few years, none of it more exciting than research suggesting that the sunshine vitamin offers protection against the development of certain cancers.

April is Daffodil Month for the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) and a fitting time of year to think about lifestyle choices, including the use of Vitamin D, which can reduce your lifetime risk of cancer.

Why Vitamin D?

Superstar nutrients, like Vitamin D, typically don’t come out of the blue. For years, Vitamin D has been associated with bone health — a deficiency has been aligned with rickets in children and osteomalacia and osteoporosis in adults. Vitamin D plays an important part in how our bodies use calcium, specifically because it effectively steers calcium to building, maintaining and reinforcing our bones and teeth.

What Are the Sources of Vitamin D?

Other than fatty fish, such as salmon, cod and herring, few foods naturally contain Vitamin D. Since North Americans don’t typically take a fish-first approach to food, it is safe to say that most of our Vitamin D comes from fortified milk – about 100 International Units (IU) in each cup. According to Dairy Farmers of Canada statistics, however, we’re still falling short. Only one-third of adult Canadians consume the recommended daily amount of milk.

Sunlight is our natural source of Vitamin D. When skin is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, cholecalciferol, or Vitamin D3, is transported to the liver where it is synthesized into calcidiol, which then circulates in your blood. On its own, the body does a great job of producing plenty of Vitamin D. In fact, most researchers believe that a few minutes of daily summer sun provide adequate Vitamin D.

But that’s the rub. Escalating skin cancer rates have prompted most of us to cover up, slather our bodies with sunscreen or stay in the shade each summer. In winter, people in northern latitudes, like Canada, are quite likely Vitamin D deficient.

What’s the Latest?

It’s an interesting footnote to today’s Vitamin D headlines that a pair of brother epidemiologists, Frank and Cedric Garland, were among the first researchers to draw attention to the relationship between cancer and the sunshine vitamin back in the mid-1970s. Why was it, they wondered, do cancer rates increase as one moves away from the equator? The common denominator, they theorized, was declining exposure to the sun.

The Garland’s research was met with skepticism more than 30 years ago, but dozens of additional studies have shown that Vitamin D plays a role in boosting immune health, preventing cancer and slowing the ageing process. In 2005, the brothers co-authored a study for The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology that found a link between Vitamin D intake and a 50 percent reduction in colorectal cancer. A follow-up 2006 analysis in the American Journal of Public Health collected data from 63 observational studies and compared Vitamin D status to the risk of cancer. They found that Vitamin D supplementation may protect against prostate, colon and ovarian cancers.

Research in 2007 by Lappe, J.M. et al, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, documented a four-year analysis of some 1,200 healthy post-menopausal women, randomly assigned to take calcium alone (1,400 to 1,500 mg daily), calcium plus Vitamin D3 (1,100 IU daily) or a placebo. Women in the calcium-plus-Vitamin D group had a reduced cancer risk of up to 60 percent.

In 2007, a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, which evaluated data from 18 separate studies of more than 57,000 participants, showed that people who took a Vitamin D supplement (from 300 IU to 2,000 IU with the average of 528 IU) had a 7 percent lower risk of premature death.

How Much Vitamin D Is Enough?

Data from research and from major health organizations, including the Canadian Cancer Society, point to a daily supplement of 1,000 IU (plus any amounts from sunlight and food) for optimal cancer prevention. Especially important during fall and winter months when sunlight is limited, this dose is a good year-round maintenance level for seniors, people with dark complexions and anyone who spends a significant amount of time indoors.

The science behind year-round dosing is based on the complex ways in which the body uses Vitamin D. At the outset, the liver turns Vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol, into a metabolized form called calcidiol. The kidneys then convert calcidiol into calcitriol, another Vitamin D molecule, which circulates in your blood to regulate bone-building calcium levels.

But it gets interesting once your circulating Vitamin D exceeds the critical minimum needed to monitor calcium. If your basic needs are met, the sunshine vitamin heads straight to work on your cells. Scientists believe it is this path of action that explains Vitamin D’s disease-fighting power.

While fighting cancer may be its most impressive feat, Vitamin D also supports heart health, fights major diseases of the blood and muscles and reduces the risk of diabetes.

While a daily dose of 1,000 IU is recommended by many major health organizations, Health Canada suggests a safe upper daily limit of 2,000 IU of vitamin D from food and supplements. Keep in mind, however, that some studies have found greater health benefits with higher daily doses.

Best-in-Class Formulas

Vitamin D supplements are commonly found in 400 IU and 1,000 IU strengths. If you read the label, you will also find Vitamin D in your daily multivitamin. In choosing a supplement, always look for Vitamin D3, which is the same natural form the body produces when skin is exposed to sunlight. Since Vitamin D is an affordable supplement, always choose the premium D3 or cholecalciferol form.

All Jamieson Vitamin D products are made using premium Vitamin D3 derived from sustainable New Zealand lanolin. In addition to making Vitamin D tablets, Jamieson also offer Canada’s first 1,000 IU natural-chocolate chewables — Vitamin D 1,000 IU Chewable Tablet and Vitamin D Soft Chews — both are free of artificial flavours and colours.

For children under age 12, Jamieson’s 400 IU Chewable Vitamin D tablets —formulated according to American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations — are free of artificial flavours and colours and they come in fun panda shapes that kids will love.

Boost Your Vitamin D3 Intake

Aim for 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure on your face, arms and hands, two or three times per week (without sunscreen) during the spring and summer months.
Avoid the hottest times of the day and use caution to avoid sunburn.
Drink two to three cups of milk or fortified soy beverages every day.
Eat two servings of fish per week, such as salmon, herring and mackerel.
Consult a healthcare practitioner about taking a supplement of 1,000 IU of Vitamin D3 daily.

http://www.northumberlandview.ca/module ... ge_id=2212


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 12, 2010 10:54 am 
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Rheumatoid Arthritis Linked to Vitamin D Deficiency, Study Suggests

ScienceDaily (Apr. 10, 2010) — Women living in the northeastern United States are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis (RA), suggesting a link between the autoimmune disease and vitamin D deficiency, says a new study led by a Boston University School of Public Health researcher.

In the paper, which appears online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, a spatial analysis led by Dr. Verónica Vieira, MS, DSc, associate professor of environmental health, found that women in states like Vermont, New Hampshire and southern Maine were more likely to report being diagnosed with RA.

"There's higher risk in the northern latitudes," Dr. Vieira said. "This might be related to the fact that there's less sunlight in these areas, which results in a vitamin D deficiency."

The study looked at data from the Nurses' Health Study, a long-term cohort study of U.S. female nurses. Looking at the residential addresses, health outcomes and behavioral risk factors for participants between 1988 and 2002, researchers based their findings on 461 women who had RA, compared to a large control group of 9,220.

RA is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the lining of the joints, mostly in the hands and knees. This chronic arthritis is characterized by swelling and redness and can wear down the cartilage between bones. RA is two to three times more common in women than in men.

Although the cause of RA is unknown, the researchers wrote, earlier studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency, which can be caused by a lack of sunlight, has already been associated with a variety of other autoimmune diseases.

"A geographic association with northern latitudes has also been observed for multiple sclerosis and Crohn's disease, other autoimmune diseases that may be mediated by reduced vitamin D from decreased solar exposure and the immune effects of vitamin D deficiency," the authors wrote.

The authors said further research is needed to look into the relationship between vitamin D exposure and RA.

Dr. Vieira said she and her co-authors were somewhat surprised by the findings. A previous geographic study of RA had suggested an ecologic association with air pollution, she said.

"The results were unexpected," Dr. Vieira said. "Prior to the analysis, we were more interested in the relationship with air pollution. I hadn't given latitudes much thought."

In addition to the geographic variation, the study suggested that the timing of residency may influence RA risk. "Slightly higher odds ratios were observed for the 1988 analysis suggesting that long term exposure may be more important than recent exposure," the study said.

Dr. Vieira and other BUSPH researchers previously have used innovative spatial-temporal analyses to study the incidence of breast cancer, specifically focused on Cape Cod.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 121227.htm


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 12, 2010 10:57 am 
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Vitamin D Deficiency In Infants And Nursing Mothers Carries Long-Term Disease Risks

ScienceDaily (Dec. 29, 2008) — Once believed to be important only for bone health, vitamin D is now seen as having a critical function in maintaining the immune system throughout life. The newly recognized disease risks associated with vitamin D deficiency are clearly documented in a new report.

Vitamin D deficiency is common across populations and particularly among people with darker skin. Nutritional rickets among nursing infants whose mothers have insufficient levels of vitamin D is an increasingly common, yet preventable disorder.

Carol Wagner, MD, Sarah Taylor, MD, and Bruce Hollis, PhD, from the Department of Pediatrics, Medical University of South Carolina (Charleston), emphasize the need for clinical studies to determine the dose of vitamin D needed to achieve adequate vitamin D levels in breastfeeding mothers and their infants without toxicity.

The authors point out that vitamin D is now viewed not simply as a vitamin with a role in promoting bone health, but as a complex hormone that helps to regulate immune system function. Long-term vitamin D deficiency has been linked to immune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, type I diabetes, and cancer.

"Vitamin D is a hormone not a vitamin and it is not just for kids anymore," writes Ruth A. Lawrence, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Breastfeeding Medicine, from the Department of Pediatrics, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, in an accompanying editorial. "Perhaps the most startling information is that adults are commonly deficit in modern society. Vitamin D is now recognized as a pivotal hormone in the human immune system, a role far beyond the prevention of rickets, as pointed out in the article by Wagner et al in this month's issue of Breastfeeding Medicine."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 161058.htm


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 12, 2010 11:01 am 
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Fear Of Sun Leads To Vitamin D Deficiency

We've Done Such A Good Job Protecting Ourselves From The Harmful Rays, 75 Percent Of Country Now Lacking.

NEW YORK (CBS) ― New research shows vitamin D can defend against a slew of health problems -- from cancer and diabetes to depression, heart disease and bone loss.

But, increasingly, Americans are becoming severely vitamin D deficient. The reason why may surprise you.

In the early 1900s hundreds of thousands of children became victims of a crippling epidemic. They didn't have enough vitamin D.

"The bones break down, become brittle. They develop multiple premature fractures," Dr. Neil Sadick said.

Now we're facing a similar outbreak. Ironically, it's because we've done such a good job protecting ourselves from the sun and skin cancer.

"The reason vitamin D deficiency has become an important problem is that it is the one vitamin that requires sunlight in order to be activated," Dr. Sadick said.

Already, nearly three quarters of all Americans, many of them children, are vitamin D deficient.

High school student Stephanie Mitzner is suffering from a vitamin D deficiency. She recently had three stress fractures and her doctors advise against running on her cross country team.

"In terms of running, I just don't think it's safe," said Dr. Shevaun Doyle of the Hospital for Special Surgery.

"Some of the vitamin D deficient children may take longer to heal their fractures."

We've had fortified foods like milk, cereal and juice since the 1930s and that's helped the problem, but it may not be enough. Now, some sunscreen makers say their latest products are the next line of defense against increasing D deficiencies.

"Were using it in all our sunscreens, in all our lotions and in our sprays," said Leslie Anstey, VP of marketing for Ocean Potion.

It's vitamin D infused sunblock.

But some doctors are skeptical.

"A topical vitamin will only penetrate down to the superficial layers of the skin and have no impact internally," Sadick said.

"We found through our outside research that it does get absorbed into the bloodstream," Anstey said.

Until further studies are conducted the National Skin Care Foundation says the absolute best way to get the necessary vitamin D is through a combination of diet and supplements. We put a list of vitamin D-rich foods here.

http://wcbstv.com/topstories/vitamin.d. ... 21307.html


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 12, 2010 11:05 am 
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Groundbreaking NZ device measures vitamin D

A New Zealand engineer has invented a "cutting-edge" device to calculate just how much sunshine we need to stay healthy.

Too much ultraviolet radiation and we risk skin cancer; too little and we are at risk of the effects of vitamin D deficiency such as bone deformities, fractures and possibly heart disease.

Dr Martin Allen, of Canterbury University, invented the badge-sized UV "dosimeter" with the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research and is developing it with Oamaru manufacturer Scienterra.

It sells for $300 but is only available for research - such as a ground-breaking New Zealand study to measure vitamin D production - and it is being developed for schools to use in overcoming many teenagers' reluctance to avoid sun, wear a sunhat or apply sunscreen.

Dr Allen said yesterday it was not feasible to add a sunburn warning buzzer and sell the device for individuals to use at the beach.

This would invite lawsuits in the United States from sunburned customers who had not placed it on the part of their body that received the most sun.

Health authorities have had trouble balancing sun-avoidance skin cancer messages with the need to spend some time in the sun during safer times to ensure adequate vitamin D levels.

For New Zealanders, most vitamin D is produced by the effect of ultraviolet rays on substances in the skin. A small amount comes from food and the vitamin can be taken in tablets.

Around half of New Zealand adults have insufficient vitamin D and 4 per cent of women and 2 per cent of men are vitamin D-deficient.

There is growing evidence having an adequate level can prevent or improve the outcome of many diseases including breast, prostate and bowel cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

There is even a possible association between low levels and obesity.

Associate Professor Robert Scragg, of Auckland University, leads a study in which 500 volunteers in Auckland and Dunedin wore a UV dosimeter, which he said was a cutting-edge device, daily for eight to 10 weeks.

"The aim is to find out how much sun exposure we need to increase vitamin D levels by a certain amount."

Darker skin produced less, but the factors affecting the rate of production were not fully understood.

Dr Allen said UV dosimeters would be offered to high schools for use in science experiments to demonstrate the effects of sun-protection measures.

"If they can work out that the daily UV cycle around 12.30 to 1.30pm, it really is intense, it may work out better at changing behaviour," he said.

The Dosimeter:

* Can measure level of the sun's burning rays every few seconds.

* Electronic components convert ultraviolet light to electrical signals which are stored for later downloading to a computer.

* Mounted in a teflon case.

* Can be pinned on clothing or attached to a wrist-strap.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/health/news/a ... d=10637754


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 11:35 am 
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Don’t be ‘SAD,’ let the sunshine in

Most people have heard about seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, in which the gloomy, cold, dark season of winter causes a depressed mood and other health concerns such as weight gain, excess sleep and lethargy. Numerous studies about the impact of weather on human health have revealed that the opposite is true as well: Sunshine and warm weather improve a person’s mood, raise energy levels and boost mental functionality.

But recent evidence about the benefits of vitamin D, which is produced in the body through exposure to sunlight, has demonstrated that sunlight improves our physiological well-being in addition to our emotional state. So why have residual guilt about spending all day on Old Campus?

On an emotional level, sunshine and warm temperatures improve optimism. Sun-induced contentment is magnified in the springtime because we have been deprived of sunlight throughout the winter. In fact, this effect is so powerful that it operates on a subconscious level; a recent study in the Journal of Finance found that stocks traded on sunny days were more profitable than stocks traded in cloudy weather.

But the sun’s rays affect more than our attitude: They also sharpen our minds. A recent study from Loyola University found that people working in sunlight had better short-term memory and were more flexible and creative in their thinking. Research published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry tested men for mental agility and found that those with higher levels of vitamin D performed consistently better than those with lower levels.

Physically, time in the sun strengthens the immune system and aids milk production in lactating women. Sunlight has been found to have germicidic effects as well; exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays kills bacteria and acts as a natural antiseptic. In addition, oxygen consumption of cells drastically improves when they are exposed to the sun, boosting energy and endurance for daily activities.

A stint in the sun also offers long-term advantages in the form of vitamin D. Vitamin D has been proven to keep the brain in top shape as we age. For people who want to retire to Florida in their golden years, recent research has shown that vitamin D’s preservative benefits are even more significant in people over the age of 60. Furthermore, numerous studies have proven that vitamin D protects against cancer, rickets, osteoporosis and diabetes. And a lack of vitamin D brought on by insufficient exposure to sunlight has been linked with a terrifyingly large number of ailments: neuro-degenerative diseases, allergies, bone diseases, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and psoriasis.

While some may argue that the health benefits of sunlight are outweighed by the risks of skin cancer and more rapid aging, recent studies have found that some ultraviolet exposure actually prevents cancer. One study calculated that people living just below the equator in Australia produced more vitamin D than people in Britain. Even though the rates of skin cancer, as well as internal cancers such as colon cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer, are higher in Australia, people in Australia were less likely to die from the diseases. Another study found that cancer patients who have surgery in the summer and who consume vitamin D supplements are twice as likely to be alive five years later than those who had their surgery in winter with little or no supplemental vitamin D.

Finally, what’s best of all is that all of the physical and mental benefits caused by sunny and warm weather don’t level off as you spend more time outside. So as long as you’re not getting burned on Old Campus — which will counteract sunshine’s benefits — stay outside as long as you want and enjoy the weeks before finals!

http://www.yaledailynews.com/news/scite ... -sunshine/


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 8:42 am 
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New evidence: Vitamin D supplements reduce breast cancer risk

A new study led by Canadian researchers and published in the April 14, 2010 issue of American Journal of Clicnical Nutrition suggests that taking vitamin D supplements may help reduce breast cancer risk drastically.

Anderson L.N. and colleagues from Population Studies Surveillance Cancer Care Ontario in Toronto Canada conducted the case-control study and found women taking 400 IU/day of vitamin D were at 24 percent lower risk of breast cancer compared to those who did not take supplements.

Anderson compared 3101 breast cancer patients aged 25 to 74 with 3471 controls for their intakes of vitamin D trough food and supplements to see if vitamin D has anything to do with the risk of breast cancer.

Early evidence suggests that vitamin D deficiency boosts the risk of the disease.

Although there was an association between taking vitamin D supplements and irks of breast cancer, vitamin D in food or combined intake of vitamin D from food and supplements were not associated with the risk.

A few foods that naturally contain vitamin D include fatty fish, egg york and mushroom. A number of processed foods and beverages that are fortified with the vitamin include milk, orange juices and other solid foods.

The researchers also found calcium supplement intake was not significantly associated with reduced risk of breast cancer even though there appeared to be an inverse trend between the two. Further they found there was no interaction between vitamin D, calcium and menopausal status in terms of their effects on the risk.

Another case-control study led by Japanese researchers and reported in the Jan 12 2010 issue of Cancer Science suggests that the protective effects of vitamin D and calcium intake against breast cancer may vary by menopausal status and receptor status.

For the study, Kawase T and colleagues from Aichi Cancer Center Research institute in Nagoya Japan compared 1803 breast cancer patients with 3606 people with cancer.

They found a significant inverse association between vitamin D and calcium intake and breast cancer risk among all subjects. Those whose intake of vitamin D and calcium were in the top quartile were 24% and 17% reduced risk of breast cancer compared to those whose intakes were in the lowest quartile.

They also observed that vitamin D may only help premenopausal women and calcium may only help postmenopausal women to reduce breast cancer risk. The associations were modified by the receptor status.

sunshine is the best source of vitamin D. 15 to 20 minutes of exposure to the sun at the hottest hour may result in enough vitamin D for the day, up to 10,000 IU at least. Experts say those who stay indoors need to take vitamin D supplements to maintain a healthy level to prevent all kinds of diseases including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and many others.

Dr. John Cannell, an vitamin D expert and director of Vitamin D Council, says on his website people need to take at least 4000 to 5000 IU per day to maintain a protective level of this vitamin. Canadian Cancer Society has already recommended taking 1000 IU per day to help prevent cancer.

http://www.foodconsumer.org/newsite/2/C ... 01005.html


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:27 am 
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Tanning beds may get closer scrutiny based on findings about skin cancer risk

A few weeks ago, I sat in a Gaithersburg hotel ballroom, taking notes on a federal hearing about tanning beds. During the proceedings, a man described his late wife's 15-year battle with skin cancer, and a mother told the panel what it was like to bury her youngest daughter after she died of melanoma. Dermatologists presented graphs that showed the risk of skin cancer shooting skyward for people who visited tanning beds regularly.

As the day wore on, my paranoia followed the same trajectory. I estimated how many times I had visited tanning beds in my teens -- 30? 50? God forbid, was it 100? As I asked the doctors follow-up questions about their testimony, I really wanted to grab them by the shoulders and ask, "Am I going to die? Can you at least look at this freckle?"

During the lunch break, I called my little sister and made sure she had stopped going to tanning salons.

Everyone in my family used tanning beds when I was growing up in Oregon in the 1980s and '90s. My parents stopped by to "work on their bases" before the summer months. My mom paid for the unlimited package at the salon for her daughters. We called it the "fake 'n' bake."

My two sisters were praised when they turned golden brown at summer camp. I inherited my mother's fair complexion and was embarrassed if white legs -- my father called them "shark bait" -- showed beneath my cheerleading skirt. Because I wanted to look good in formal dresses, my tanning bed use spiked before school dances. My girlfriends felt the same. We all knew that Britney Spears had a tanning bed in her tour bus.

As for the danger? I thought about tanning beds the same way I thought about the chemicals in diet soda: There was something vaguely cancerous about them, but nothing much to worry about. My mom's line was that the most important thing was to avoid burning, and getting a fake "base" would help. Even if I had known more about the risks, I doubt it would have affected my behavior. Sixteen-year-olds don't fret much about long-term health consequences.

When I came East for college, my style transitioned from preppy to more sophisticated: I wore more black and liked the contrast with my skin. Where I had once thought of white skin as pasty and pale, I started to think of it as porcelain and creamy. I stopped going to tanning salons.

I didn't consider how much damage I might have done until that day in Gaithersburg.

A 75 percent increase

The Food and Drug Administration called its March 25 hearing in the wake of a report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization. That report, which covered X-rays and other devices that emit radiation, reclassified tanning beds into the highest cancer risk category -- "carcinogenic to humans," along with substances such as tobacco smoke and asbestos. Previously, WHO had classified tanning lamps as "probably" carcinogenic.

The report, published in the journal Lancet Oncology last summer, said that the risk of melanoma increases by 75 percent when use of tanning beds starts before age 30.

In 2005, 8.7 percent of American teens ages 14 to 17 used tanning beds, according to Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, which is produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Girls were seven times more likely to use them than boys.

Since the mid-1980s, the FDA has regulated tanning beds as Class I medical devices, putting them in the same low-risk category as bandages and tongue depressors. At the hearing, most of the presenters asked the advisory panel to recommend that the FDA either ban the machines outright or at least more strictly regulate their use, especially by minors.

In the end, the panel urged the FDA to make tanning beds Class II or III devices, which would allow the FDA to regulate them more closely. It also recommended that more prominent warning labels be required. (The $5 billion tanning industry is also facing a new 10 percent tax on tanning-bed fees starting July 1, a component of the new health-care legislation. )

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, and the CDC estimates that 65 to 90 percent of those tumors are caused by exposure to ultraviolet light or sunlight. Like the sun, tanning beds produce UVA and UVB rays, as well as Vitamin D. Most tanning beds emit about 95 percent UVA rays, which penetrate deep into the skin and give that bronzed look that many people find attractive, and 5 percent UVB rays, which hit the top layers and are most responsible for sunburns. According to the WHO, tanning beds are many times stronger than the midday summer sun in most countries and are therefore more dangerous.

In 2006, the last year for which CDC statistics are available, about 54,000 people in the United States received diagnoses of melanomas of the skin, and 8,441 people died of the disease. The incidence of melanoma has increased by about 3 percent per year since the early 1990s, according to the CDC. The two more common types of skin cancer, basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, are far more curable but can leave patients with serious physical scars.

Under the Class I regulations, the FDA has required tanning beds to have timers and warning labels, and has obliged salons to provide protective eyewear. The agency recommends that people limit themselves to three or fewer tanning sessions during the first week of use. More than 30 states have supplemental regulations for tanning beds.

However, a study sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and published in the September 2009 issue of the Archives of Dermatology found compliance problems among tanning bed operators. Researchers trained college students to pose as 15-year-old, fair-skinned girls who had never tanned before. The students then called more than 3,600 tanning facilities in all 50 states to inquire about tanning. Although 87 percent of the salons warned the callers that they would need parental consent -- many states require parental consent, but it is not an FDA rule -- 71 percent said they would allow the callers to tan all seven days the first week. Many of the businesses suggested trying their "unlimited tanning" packages.

'A regulated environment'

John Overstreet, the executive director of the Washington-based Indoor Tanning Association, attended the hearing. He said that parental consent is already standard policy in the industry and that many of the statements presented to the panel didn't give credit to the FDA for all the regulations that are already in place. At the hearing, tanning industry representatives suggested that taking away tanning beds might push people toward more-dangerous methods of getting darker skin.

"When you tan indoors, you have a regulated environment, in that you know exactly what you're getting every single time," Overstreet said. "Also, you have a trained staff person saying, 'You're pretty pale, you should only go for five minutes.' Or, 'Have you been in the Caribbean? You can go for 10 minutes.' When you tan outside, it's very difficult to judge how much exposure you're getting."

Overstreet also said that "tremendous flaws" exist in the WHO report and that the federal government shouldn't base major policy decisions on one report.

Brian O'Donnell, a Maine dermatologist who testified at the hearing, said in a follow-up interview that demanding a "perfect, gold-standard study" on tanning beds is just an attempt to change the subject.

"We can't do double-blind, placebo-controlled studies, because no institution would ethically allow it to happen, and there's a reason for that," he said. "Because everybody knows it causes cancer."

O'Donnell's dermatology practice consists 100 percent of skin cancer cases, he said, and he brought a passionate argument against tanning devices to the FDA hearing. He told chilling stories of "the horrors that go on in my office, where I have to take off people's noses, eyelids and lips." The most memorable part of his presentation were grisly images of skin cancer surgeries.

Sunburn protection?

As for the purported benefits of tanning beds, O'Donnell acknowledged that they deliver Vitamin D. But he said a customer would need to be in the bed for only a few minutes -- not even long enough to get a tan -- for the body to produce an adequate amount. Artificial UV radiation can help with skin conditions such as psoriasis, but those treatments are best done in doctor's offices, not salons, O'Donnell said.

And my mom's idea that building a fake base tan would prevent future sunburns? Bunk, said O'Donnell. A tan is the skin's way of saying it's injured, he said. It produces melanin, a pigment that darkens the skin and helps to protect underlying tissues from further harm. The skin's DNA is also injured and the damage accumulates over time, increasing the risk of skin cancers.

A couple of years ago, my mother had a basal cell carcinoma removed from her collarbone. She hasn't visited a tanning bed in about a decade. When I asked her whether she regretted letting my sister and me tan, she said, "With teenage girls, you have to pick your battles."

I can't undo all those trips to the tanning salon, but I am vigilant about protecting myself from the sun now. I also get completely checked out by a dermatologist every year; Mom calls it a "strip and spin." Here's hoping that decades of practicing safe sun will counteract three years of visiting tanning salons.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 03138.html


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:41 am 
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Tanning Beds

Like the whole area of skin cancer itself I believe that there is good, bad & indifferent information in the preceding article.

As you will be aware, I have become a big fan of vitamin D3. How you get your vitamin D is up to you. You can get it in a bottle, exposure to the sun or tanning beds.

The important thing to remember is to limit the exposure to avoid toxicity or sunburn. You don't need a tan to protect yourself from the sun if you are limiting your exposure to 10 mins. If you have darker skin you will need longer.

As you regularly spend more time outside safely in the sun, you skin will naturally brown and you will need to spend a few minutes longer to get the same amount of D3.

I used tanning beds once before a bodybuilding competition. The aim was to build a base. It didn't work as you have to be so dark under the bright lights. While there was some guidance I wouldn't call the staff traned professionals and I only got burnt once - in the bed they ask you to use first time.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:48 am 
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Vitamin D deficiency linked to more aggressive lymphoma

(NaturalNews) Lymphoma patients with vitamin D deficiency are twice as likely to die from their cancer than patients with sufficient blood levels of the vitamin, according to a study conducted by researchers from the Mayo Clinic and presented at a meeting of the American Society of Hematology.

Researchers took blood samples from 374 patients between 2002 and 2008 who had been recently diagnosed with a cancer of the white blood cells known as diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. The average participant age was 62.

Approximately 40 percent of all lymphomas are of the diffuse large-B cell type. The disease mainly affects people over the age of 50.

The researchers found that roughly 50 percent of all participants suffered from vitamin D deficiency at the beginning of the study, defined as having blood levels below 25 nanograms per liter. Over an average of three years of follow-up, patients with vitamin D deficiency were 50 percent more likely to have their cancer worsen and twice as likely to die as patients with vitamin levels above 25 nanograms per liter.

Researchers have known for a long time that vitamin D helps regulate calcium absorption and thus plays a crucial role in bone and dental health. Recent research suggests that the vitamin may also help regulate the immune system, and that higher levels can help prevent against chronic diseases such as Alzheimer's, cancer, diabetes and dementia. Some researchers are making the case that for these benefits, vitamin D levels must be maintained at a level closer to 40 nanograms per liter.

The Mayo Clinic researchers used the 25 nanogram per liter cutoff because that is the level at which the body begins to leach calcium from its own bones, and is therefore a well-defined deficiency threshold.

Prior research has suggested that vitamin D deficiency may worsen the prognosis for patients with breast, colon and throat cancers.

http://www.naturalnews.com/028609_vitam ... phoma.html


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 10:54 am 
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Vitamin D and Boston’s Floating Hospital

In the 19th century, how were children treated who suffered from rickets due to a lack of vitamin D? If they were fortunate to live in New England, they were taken for long trips on Boston’s Floating Hospital. This hospital ship exposed them to prolonged periods of sun, nature’s way of producing vitamin D. Today, not many people develop rickets. But how much D do you need, when should you take it, and can it protect you from a variety of problems? Here are some facts you should know.

Does vitamin D Prevent Cancer?

Dr. Jo Ann Manson, Professor of Medicine at The Harvard Medical School, reports strong evidence that higher blood levels of vitamin D help to protect against colon cancer. Other researchers at Creighton University, in Omaha, Nebraska, gave 1,200 healthy postmenopausal women 1,500 milligrams of calcium and 1,000 IU (international units) of vitamin D daily. Their study was designed to determine if this combination decreased the risk of bone fracture. They were surprised to discover that these women were 77 percent less likely to develop cancer, primarily breast malignancy, during the next four years.

Does D Protect Against Infection?

Vitamin D has been labeled the “antibiotic vitamin” as studies show it spurs up the immunity system to fight infections. Dr. John Cannell, a U.S. Psychiatrist, noted this interesting finding in 2005 when an epidemic of flu struck the hospital for the criminally insane in California. He said the infection spared those patients who were receiving vitamin D.

Dr. Mitsuyoshi Urashima, a Professor of Epidemiology in Japan, reports in the American Journal of Nutrition that school children given 1,200 IU of D were less likely to develop influenza A than children not receiving this vitamin. Flu usually strikes in the dark winter months when vitamin D levels are low. Dr. Urashima says he formerly suffered from several episodes of flu every year. Now he takes 3,000 IU of D daily and has not had a fever, sore throat or fatigue for the last two years. The Japanese study also revealed another shocking fact, that children not receiving D were six times more likely to suffer asthma attacks.

Does It Matter When You Take D?

Luckily D is a fat soluble vitamin, as are vitamins A, E, and K. So if you take more than you need, the extra D is stored in the liver and then used as it’s needed.

Does It Matter How Much You Take?

The current recommended allowance is 200 to 600 IU. But I talked to several authorities about the amount they would recommend, and it varied from 1,000 to 5,000 mg daily.

Does Where You Live Make Any Difference?

Residents of cities at a latitude above 35degrees north which includes Boston, Philadelphia and all of Canada can stand outside in the noon day sun naked from October to February and not manufacture one IU of vitamin D due to the angle of the sun’s rays at that time.

Does D Prevent Heart Attack?

Dr. Edward Giovannucci, a researcher at The Harvard School of Public Health , reports in the Journal, Archives of Internal Medicine, that those with low levels of vitamin D were more likely to have a heart attack than those with higher levels of this vitamin. Giovannucci said that, in the past, doctors have been more concerned about the role played by vitamin D in preventing osteoporosis. But there’s now evidence that low levels of vitamin D may cause subtle changes in a lot of tissues. Vitamin D, he said, may lower blood pressure, regulate inflammation in arteries and decrease calcification in coronary arteries.

A study by Dr. Thomas Wang, another Harvard researcher, showed that people with low vitamin D levels had a higher risk of not only heart attack, but also of heart failure and stroke.

Does D Prevent Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is usually due to obesity. But the risk of developing Type 1 diabetes is increased if there’s a deficiency of vitamin D since it’s needed in the production of insulin.

These reports show we need vitamin D, not just to promote the absorption of calcium to form strong bones. And that it’s prudent to take at least 1,000 IU of D daily.

http://www.torontosun.com/life/healthan ... 12776.html


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