As scientific evidence mounts on health benefits of sun exposure and vitamin D, doctors are rethinking advice of sunlight avoidance

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As scientific evidence mounts on health benefits of sun exposure and vitamin D, doctors are rethinking advice of sunlight avoidance

The following is part four of an eight-part interview with Dr. Michael Holick, author of “The UV advantage” and one of the world”s most respected authorities on vitamin D and the health benefits of natural sunlight. His work can be found at Be sure to print out the vitamin D myths, facts and statistics page summarizing the key points of this interview.

Adams: Let me shift gears here and ask you about the controversy side of this. Sadly, I think your book has been attacked with kind of a surprising degree of ferocity. What has happened to you since publishing this book and taking this stand on being a proponent of sun exposure?

Dr. Holick: Well, from my perspective, you know you have to look at life and see that the glass is half full or half empty, and I”ve always seen it as being half full. And I think that in many ways it”s been good. Even though I was unfortunately fired from my position in dermatology because my views on some sensible sun exposure were counter to the American Academy of Dermatology and some of the so-called leaders in the dermatology field, for the most part I think that it”s been a benefit because it”s really raised the public”s awareness about this issue and for that I”m really grateful. Because in the past people have just said vitamin D, ho-hum, sunshine vitamin … who really cares about it? And these people now have to take pause and begin to think about it.

Adams: And in the UK especially, they”re now seeing an official body overturning the advice to avoid the sun, isn”t that right?

Adams: But in the United States?

Dr. Holick: In the United States I think it”s going to be a more slow and gradual process, because the American Academy of Dermatology has so brainwashed the public that you should never be exposed to any sunlight, that it basically is part of everybody”s way of life. And it”s extremely unfortunate.

Adams: And it is widespread, wherever I go and talk to people, to groups, I inevitably mention sunlight and vitamin D, and I have not run into a single person yet that is aware of the health benefits of ultraviolet radiation. Not a single one.

Dr. Holick: I”m not at all surprised. Like I said, the problem was that over the past 20 years ago the dermatologists have basically been in control of the media regarding the role of sunlight in health. And all they”ve looked at is the negative effect. And there”s no question that chronic, excessive exposure to sunlight increases risk of nonmelanoma skin cancer, which is Basal or Squamous cell cancer. I make that very clear in my book.

Dr. Holick: But there”s very little evidence in my opinion that sensible, moderate sun exposure increases your risk of the most deadly form of skin cancer, melanoma. In fact, there”s good evidence to suggest that it may decrease your risk.

Adams: What about sunscreen products? The sunscreen manufacturers, I think they”re happy to go along with the idea that sun should be avoided. What”s been your experience?

Dr. Holick: Yeah, I think that there”s no question that the American Academy of Dermatology is well-funded by the sunscreen industry, and I”m sure that that plays a role in this.

Adams: There”s influence, or lobbying, or what?

Dr. Holick: Well, back in April, just before my book was launched, I think the “Safe Skin Association” actually put out a paid news release attacking me and the book, even before it was launched.

Adams: You really have to be stirring things up to get that kind of treatment.

Dr. Holick: Yeah. It was called the “Safe Skin Alliance” I believe. And it was actually funded by one of the companies that makes Coppertone, among other sunscreen products.

Adams: And just to be clear to the readers or listeners here, your advice to get sensible exposure to the sun, technically doesn”t preclude using sunscreens in an intelligent way. Correct?

Dr. Holick: Correct. In fact, that”s what I make very clear in the book, is, go out for the 5-10 minutes, be exposed to sensible sun exposure, then put a sunscreen on with the proper SPF. And I even teach you in the book how much sunscreen to use to make sure that you”re getting the full sun protection that”s stated on the bottle.

See more articles on:Vitamin Dsunscreendermatology

As scientific evidence mounts on health benefits of sun exposure and vitamin D, doctors are rethinking advice of sunlight avoidance


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