New Under the Sun:
Volume 4, Issue 4
It’s April and for those of you living above 400 latitude, you are again beginning to get some UVB radiation exposure after the October through March lull. Most of us welcome the spring sunshine and want to expose our bare skin to it. This is nature’s way of making sure we optimize our vitamin D levels. However, the return of Spring is the signal to the American Academy of Dermatologists (AAD), led by their current president Clay J. Cockerell, M.D., to launch this year’s offensive against nature. Once again, they are deploying their scare tactics against that ultimate source of life and health: the sun. More on this below.
A Whiter Shade
of Pale: The AAD just announced their new offensive: to make it illegal
for anyone under age 18 to use tanning beds without parental permission.
Evidently, three states (Tennessee, Texas, and California) already have
such laws in place. Now they are aiming their well-oiled PR machine at
the other 47 state legislatures. Their goals, as stated in their press
Does their press release say anything about vitamin D? No, not one word. Their only comments about UV radiation are that it is a dangerous carcinogen, the cause of over one million cases of skin cancer each year, including “105,750 new cases of melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer).” Now, it is true that excessive UV radiation is related to basal and squamous cell skin cancer incidences, and that these are the most common forms of cancers. However, it is also true that there is effectively a 100% cure rate for such cancers unless the individual does not bother to go to a doctor until the growth has gotten quite large.
On the other hand, the tie between UV radiation and melanoma is murkier. It appears to be related to having suffered intense, burning/blistering sunburns during childhood, but cause and effect are less clear than is the case with the other skin cancers. In addition, there is evidence that those with high levels of vitamin D are at lower risk of developing melanomas than those with low levels of vitamin D. This means that individuals who spend a great deal of time in the sun, such as construction or agricultural workers may be at higher risk of developing basal or squamous cell skin cancers than are office workers, but they are also at very low risk of developing melanomas compared to those same office workers whose only exposure to UVB radiation is when they are out baking or frying themselves on the weekends. It is a favorite tactic of the AAD PR machine to conflate the data on basal, squamous, and melanoma skin cancers and then to focus just on melanoma. Through this they are able to imply that your chances of developing life-threatening melanoma are vastly higher than they actually are.
If you are very pale, have light-colored eyes, are a natural blond or redhead, and have received severe sunburns during your life, then, yes, your chances of developing melanoma are fairly high. I would agree with dermatologists that avoiding UV radiation would be a good idea in your case. However, unlike the AAD, I would also urge you to take vitamin D supplementation (just vitamin D3, also known as cholecalciferol, without being bound to anything else such as calcium or vitamin A). Boosting your blood levels of vitamin D, in addition to improving other aspects of your health, might actually help you ward off melanoma.
The darker your skin, eyes, and hair, the less probable it is that you will develop any form of skin cancer, including melanoma. If you are of West African or South Asian ancestry and are quite dark, the probability is vanishingly small. Yet, you are just as much a target of the AAD PR as is the individual of Northern European ancestry. Unlike those individuals, if you are living in the temperate latitudes you have a severe handicap they lack which the AAD willfully ignores despite our numerous attempts to get them to listen and to act. Unlike very pale individuals who need little UVB exposure of their skin to optimize their vitamin D levels, those of you are dark need extensive UVB exposure of up to several hours each day, depending on latitude, just to maintain your vitamin D levels in the low-normal range. Since this length of time is impossible for most individuals, it becomes critically important that you take vitamin D supplementation. But does the AAD acknowledge this in their statements? Does it appear anywhere in their press release?
If we focus only on the types of cancer where mortality is a concern, then skin cancer drops to near the bottom of the list since melanomas affect only a fraction of those suffering from breast, colon, or prostate cancers. Vitamin D deprivation is a factor in all three of these more deadly forms of cancer, and probably plays a role in melanoma as well.
So, back to the recent AAD press release which states their goal of preventing minors from using tanning beds. What will this achieve? Tanning bed time is monitored. A teen client is not going to be left to fry in a tanning bed whereas it is much more probable that said teen, out in the backyard or by the pool, will lose track of time and bake or burn. Depriving teens of access to tanning beds only deprives them of a controlled environment for tanning. It does nothing to prevent tanning. Better a little tan than a lot of burn. The AAD is surely aware of this, so their stated goal is only a PR ploy to get news coverage so that they can remind everyone as warm weather approaches and we begin to shed our clothes to soak up the sun’s rays that the sun is bad, evil, and dangerous. I heard Cockerell say during some radio coverage of this ploy (I paraphrase), “We need to encourage teens that it is healthier and better to be a whiter shade of pale.” Schaumburg, Ill., March 17 /PRNewswire/ SOURCE American Academy of Dermatology. For more information, contact the Academy at 1-888-462-DERM (3376) or http://www.aad.org.
Meats are Vital Victuals: When you see two individuals of common ancestry and one, say the grandfather, is significantly shorter and slighter than the other, say the grandson, it is fairly certain that one of the major differences between the two is that grandson had much more protein, particularly from animal sources, in his diet as he was growing than his grandfather did. Research done on schoolchildren in Kenya highlights the vital importance of meat in an individual’s diet. Results were based on a study of children whose average age was seven. The children were divided into groups. One group of children received a supplement of 60 grams of minced beef each day. Two other groups received, respectively, 8 ounces of milk or an equivalent amount of energy from vegetable oil. The control group ate their usual, unsupplemented diet that contained very little protein and was primarily corn and bean based.
At the end of two years, the group receiving meat supplementation was significantly larger, more out-going and active, and performed better on tests of intelligence than the other groups. In addition to protein, meat is also a significant source of iron and vitamin B12. Both of these are extremely difficult to get in adequate quantities through other food sources and are required for optimal health, energy, and brain function. These group differences are so serious and critical that the author of the study, L.H. Allen, stated, “There's absolutely no question that it's unethical for parents to bring up their children as strict vegans." Allen L. H. J. Nutrition (suppl.), 133. 3875S - 3878S (2003).
Comment: One only has to look at our relatively small digestive system compared to our large brain to see that humans are not meant to be vegetarians. Our closest primate relatives, the chimpanzees, are not vegetarians. They eat both animal and insect protein. While their intake of these protein sources accounts for only about 20% of their diet, their brain is only about one-third as large as ours, too. Just on the basis of this, one would conclude that a significant portion of the human diet needs to contain high-quality protein sources.
If we examine skeletal remains from Paleolithic hunter/gatherers and compare them to the remains of early agriculturists who relied almost entirely on a grain-based diet, we find that the meat-eating hunter/gatherers were much taller, heavier, and healthier than their agricultural neighbors and descendants. Humans are omnivores: we eat whatever is edible. This includes meat and other high-quality, non-vegetable protein sources. Of course, we also need to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, but refusing to eat meat puts undue stress on the body. This may not be apparent for some years, but eventually the deprivation will be obvious in both mental/intellectual and physical health crises.
AnthroHealth Tip of the Month: If you are a vegan or have one in your home, you need to seriously consider the issue of protein, iron, and vitamin B12 deprivation. In addition, for those who are not quite as strict in their diets, but won’t eat dead animals, you need to consider the issue of excessive saturated fat consumption from substituting dairy products for leaner, healthier protein sources such as fish or lean meats. Our bodies are better designed to handle a steak than an equivalent amount of cheese or milk. For optimal health, both physical and intellectual, the AnthroHealth Diet of Premier Nutrition, the diet of our ancestors, is the best choice.
§ 8 – 10 servings
of fruits and vegetables each day including 1-2 servings of spinach
© 2001-2009 Kathleen E. Fuller, PhD. All rights reserved.