The controversy over sunlight benefit versus danger rumbles on, with new data on both sides of the question. From the American Academy of Dermatology meeting, two very different pieces of information stand out favoring cautious sunlight protection. A study recently reported showing an increase in the incidence of melanoma for people who had used tanning beds before the age of 35. Early damage from excessive light exposure shows up later.
Other studies reported showed that exposure to two times the MED (the minimal amount of light necessary to cause redness of the skin) caused 100 times the amount of messenger RNA for collagenase (the enzyme which breaks down collagen in skin.) Collagen is the fibrous substance which gives the skin its shape and strength.
Breakdown of collagen is associated with aging and wrinkles. One half the amount of sunlight necessary to cause redness increased the collagenase activity fourfold.
Furthermore, even one tenth the amount of sunlight exposure necessary to cause redness caused some increase in collagenase activity.
All of the data which was presented demonstrated the various aspects of the process of sun damage leading to aging, at the molecular level. The speaker is a respected authority on the science of skin aging, so the data appears valid. I have reviewed other studies in the past which show similar findings, which also lends credibility to his argument. I will discuss the benefits of sunlight and vitamin D production in later blogs, which inform the other side of this
controversy. If you sign up for my monthly newsletter, I will email you the top five tips to minimize the effects of solar damage.
Regardless of controversy, sun exposure is a double edged sword with both benefits and dangers. Living a full life exposes us to both those benefits and dangers; finding the right balance and using protective supplements and
topical antioxidants is the best we can do.To your health,
Vitamin D is back in the news, with recent studies showing that fewer people need Vitamin D supplements, according to new FDA guidelnes. I disagree with these new guidelines because they’re based on a study I find sorely lacking:
For example, there was unfortunately no examination of Vitamin D and bone health in this study. Also, the effect of higher vitamin D levels on boosting immunity in such a way as to counteract autoimmune disorders was neither mentioned, nor investigated.
The studies also purport that lower levels of Vitamin D did not affect overall mortality in a totally mixed and kidney disease population. They even mention that Vitamin D was associated with kidney disease and some cancers.
Such studies with no regard for the complex underlying way a supplement acts on the human body (and specifically immune system and bones) can only serve to confuse physicians and the general population. Until I see careful studies of people with different illnesses, and studies that contradict what has been shown in the immune system, I will continue to consider the new lower vitamin D levels recommended as insufficient for certain individuals with disorders of the immune system.
What’s worse, this kind of study and the headline stories about the supposed conclusion of this meta-analysis in the press could harm hundreds of thousands of people who actually do need more vitamin D because of the condition they have or the condition of their immune system. For example, another recent study showed that people with pneumonia had better survival if they had higher Vitamin D levels, and that the benefits depend on the type of Vitamin D taken (Vitamin D3 possibly being superior to D2).
We will keep you up to date exploring the many aspects emerging on this important vitamin, Vitamin D, as it relates to the skin and the immune system.