In a chapter titled " The Sun Will Save Your Life," you discuss the possible connection between autism and vitamin D deficiency. I was wondering if you could expand on that a little.
This is a fairly new study. There were two articles, one in Scientific American and the other in a Swedish journal, that presented compelling evidence that low vitamin D levels in pregnant mothers can be one of the triggers for this heartbreaking affliction. Unfortunately, a lot of autism groups still blame vaccinations even though this explanation really isn’t being borne out scientifically.
In what ways is the public misinformed about the dangers of sun exposure and how did we go astray?
Dr. John Canell, whom I interviewed for the book and is a council member for a nonprofit group of physicians studying the health effects of vitamin D, argues that we’re the first [modern] generation of cave people. Nature intended for man to take in a lot of sunlight. For proof, one need look no further than the statistic revealing that 10-15 minutes of sunbathing will provide us with the same amount of vitamin D as 200 glasses of milk. And this vitamin is one of our most potent anti-cancer agents. I think we started running into trouble when we shifted away from an outdoor, agricultural society to an indoor, manufacturing one.
The second blow was the invention of the air conditioner, which ensured that everyone kept his or her windows closed. Window glass completely blocks out the ultraviolet rays that enable our bodies to manufacture vitamin D. Unfortunately for kids, I think the final straw has been the computer and video-game craze of the last 30 years. Unlike past generations, children today spend a lot more time indoors than they do playing around in the sun. Testing shows that our vitamin D levels are now a small fraction of what we think they were 100 years ago. These kinds of tests weren’t administered back then, so there’s no way for us to know for sure.
So does this mean the cast of " The Jersey Shore" is less likely to develop melanoma?
Ultimately, everybody knows how much sun they can safely take in. You really should try not to burn, especially if you have blue eyes, fair skin and red or blond hair. Melanoma claims approximately 9,000 lives in the U.S. per year, which is worrisome, but it’s also worth noting that upward of 250,000 lives could be saved from cancer-related illnesses if people had the proper amount of vitamin D in their bloodstreams. It’s better to get too much sun than too little.
Finally, real researchers are starting to stand up against the sunscreen fearmongering. And, the numbers are stark: Keeping the sun off your skin may prevent easily seen and removed skin cancer, but it makes you 27X more likely to enjoy organ cancer you can’t easily see or cut off.