We Are Sunshine

HEADLINE STORY: British doctor attacks the Skin Cancer Foundation for being “short-sighted” about sunshine

Monday, July 6th, 2009

JULY 6, 2009 — A British doctor has taken on the Skin Cancer Foundation’s myopic advice about sun exposure in a column that has gotten global attention — including being picked up by some in the North American media.

2009-07-06-attacking-sun-scare-copy.jpgDr. John Briffa, a London-based physician and health writer who publishes the nutrition and natural web site, applauded the Skin Cancer Foundation’s recommendation that adults increase their daily vitamin D intake from 400 IU/daily to 1,000 IU, but also said the Foundation’s entire message — to avoid sunlight and wear chemical sunscreen every day — is short-sighted.

“While there is some justification for this advice, it is obviously skin-focused. And what this sort of advice can neglect are the profound benefits sunlight exposure can have on general health,” Briffa wrote in his column. “While The Skin Cancer Foundation is clearly aware of the fact that vitamin D is important, it recommends that we get this through diet and supplements. The likelihood is that these recommendations will still leave many individuals short on vitamin D, especially in the winter.

“While I am not against supplementation (I am currently taking 3,000 IU of vitamin D again myself), I suspect that shying away from the sun and slavering ourselves in sunscreen will almost certainly jeopardize our chances of enjoying optimal levels of vitamin D.”

The Skin Cancer Foundation is supported almost entirely by the manufacturers of chemical sunscreen companies.

“The Skin Cancer Foundation has made a useful recommendation, but some could argue that this organization is, to some degree, responsible for the fact that vitamin deficiency is so common,” Briffa wrote. “Overall, while I welcome The Skin Cancer Foundation’s call for increased vitamin D intake, I also believe that the advice it gives regarding sun exposure is likely to be doing more harm than good.”

To read Briffa’s column click here.