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Thread: NZ sun too strong for vitamin D advice

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    MotherBear's Avatar
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    Default NZ sun too strong for vitamin D advice

    NZ sun too strong for vitamin D advice
    By FINBARR BUNTING - Sunday Star Times | Sunday, 15 February 2009

    The cancer Society is urging Kiwi sun lovers to think carefully before taking controversial advice to sunbathe more.

    New research from England's Bristol University has lent weight to the argument of campaigners in the UK who say vitamin D deficiency - which is often caused by inadequate sun exposure - may be a danger that outweighs the risk of skin cancer.

    UK health campaigner Oliver Gillie has even called for the scrapping of the UK's Sunsmart campaign (similar to the New Zealand campaign of the same name), calling for public health bodies to encourage sunbathing.

    But Dr Judith Galtry of the Cancer Society says there is no need for New Zealand to change its official stance on sun protection.

    She says New Zealand's unique conditions, with UV levels up to 40 percent higher than those recorded in the UK and some of the highest rates of melanoma in the world, means the Sunsmart message is an important one.

    The Bristol study showed children born to women whose pregnancy spanned summer months were taller and had thicker bones than children who were gestated through winter.

    The difference was attributed to the elevation of vitamin D levels in mothers during the longer, brighter summer days.

    Vitamin D deficiency has previously been linked to prostate cancer, tuberculosis, breast cancer, diabetes and even multiple sclerosis by some researchers, although Galtry says there is still debate over whether vitamin D deficiency is a contributor to poor health, or simply a marker of it.

    However, the Cancer Society does recommend some sun exposure for vitamin D synthesis.

    It advises only that New Zealanders protect themselves during the sunny months from September and March, and only between 11 and 4pm. During winter, sun protection is advised only around snow or water.

    But Professor Robert Scragg of the School for Population Health at the University of Auckland says too much focus is put on people staying out of the sun.

    He says our vitamin D deficiency levels are comparable with that of the UK and higher than North America.

    He says people should aim for short regular bursts of sunlight, without sunscreen, rather than prolonged exposure, which is more damaging to the body.

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    selchie's Avatar
    selchie is offline All Knowing Deity
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    It's not as though one needs to lie out in the sun all day to synthesize sufficient vitamin D (unless you live where I do). My doc says that 15 minutes should normally do it. Maybe in NZ that time is shorter.
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