Sunday, July 29, 2007

Throw away the sunscreen! 

We may be getting too little sunshine:

A study released today in the journal Neurology indicates that children who spend more time in the sun may have a decreased risk of multiple sclerosis. In pairs of twins where one twin had multiple sclerosis, the MS-free sibling had spent more time outside, playing team sports and sun tanning. Scientists theorize that ultraviolet rays in sunlight trigger a protective response that protects the body from this chronic nervous system disorder, either by altering the immune system or by producing vitamin D. . . .

Getting more vitamin D-drenched sunlight might be a good idea, regardless of your genetic risk for multiple sclerosis: Scientists say most people aren’t getting enough. Researchers at Boston University published a paper last week in the New England Journal of Medicine said that more than 1 billion people worldwide don’t get enough Vitamin D. Too little vitamin D for too long can result in dramatic results like rickets—a softening of the skeleton. But other dangers include Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a range of cancers, Crohn’s disease, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension.

Interesting. I am fair-skinned, but have always thought that giving up sunshine was a sacrifice too far, even at the cost of an occasional sunburn. Yes, that puts me at greater risk of cancer, but I am at less risk of having no fun. Anyway, I am good about getting an annual exam from a determatologist, something I have been doing since I was in my thirties. You should too.

MORE: And, no, I'm not really advocating that we throw away the sunscreen, notwithstanding the title of the post. I admit, though, I do hate putting it on.

This is pretty interesting, too.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Jul 29, 09:53:00 PM:

Tigerhawk -

See here:


By Blogger Purple Avenger, at Sun Jul 29, 10:50:00 PM:

This analysis was restricted to 79 disease- and exposure-discordant monozygotic twin pairs

That sample size is so absurdly small that the results are likely worthless.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Mon Jul 30, 06:35:00 AM:

Sample size -- Are you sure, Purple Avenger? I'm not a statistician by any means, but I think if you get a big enough difference with 79 identical twins you can draw a significant conclusion. Without having read the paper (only the abstract is available to me), I think the bigger problem is the retrospectivity. The researchers could not have been blinded to the MS -- it is an obvious disease in many patients. How did they determine who, historically, had had more exposure to sunshine? I know that if you tried to adduce that fact from, say, my brother and I would be very difficult to figure out. But perhaps they had some method.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Jul 30, 08:33:00 AM:

This comment has been removed by the author.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Jul 30, 08:52:00 AM:

I couldn't work the link and so apologies if this is redundant, but have read in places that it's being quietly said Muslim women (covered girls to full niqab older ones) are experiencing sunshine deficit and ill health effects.

Imo women's physiological and mental functions are being impaired by the oxygen-depriving veil, as well.

Sunshine and fresh air are fundamentals of life that fundy women don't get enough of. At least their diet of eating less processed foods and drinking less/ no alcohol is salutary.

In the West, our children are not only slathered with chemical sunblock from an early age when they go outside, they may stay indoors more than previous generations. I didn't let my child sunburn and even discouraged suntanning, but wonder whether we're farming human mushrooms.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Jul 30, 10:56:00 AM:


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