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Position of health organizations and agencies in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and the World Health Organization, on UV radiation and vitamin D

wbgrant@infionline.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 8, 2004

Position of health organizations and agencies in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and the World Health Organization, on ultraviolet radiation and vitamin D.

William B. Grant, Ph.D.

I checked the Internet for position statements on solar UVR and vitamin D by major health organizations in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K. and the U.S. The findings are summarized in Table 1. As can be seen, nearly all point out the risks of melanoma and skin cancer. Only a few seem to mention solar UVB as a source of vitamin D. None discusses the wide variety of diseases prevented by adequate levels of vitamin D based on the current literature. Hopefully, these positions will change as the organizations and agencies assess the more recent research findings.

Table 1. Summary of statements by major health organizations on solar UVR and vitamin D. The information given below can be found by searching at each web site

OrganizationStatement on Solar UVRStatement on Vitamin DReference
American Academy of DermatologyCauses melanoma and skin cancer; similar to smoking cigarettes as a carcinogen, 1999Can be obtained from diet, supplements, 1999www.aad.org
American Cancer SocietyCauses skin cancerCan be obtained from casual sun exposure, diet, supplements; reduces risk of colon cancer, 2004www.cancer.org
American College of Preventive MedicineCauses melanoma and skin cancer, 1998 www.acpm.org
Australian Sun Smart Avoid UV as much as possible; causes melanoma and skin cancerObtained through casual sun exposure, 2003www.sunsmart.com.au
British Columbia Centre for Disease ControlCauses skin cancer, but is a source of vitamin D www.bccdc.org
BUPAShould avoid excess, but UVB radiation, through production of vitamin D, can protect against breast, colon, and prostate cancer, and heart disease, 2004UVB is major source, diet is a minor sourcewww.bupa.co.uk
Canadian Cancer SocietyTake precautions when the Environment Canada's UV Index™ is >3www.cancer.ca
Cancer Research UKCauses melanoma and skin cancerReviewing the evidence, 2004www.cancerresearchuk.org
Center for Disease Control and Development, USAUVR causes melanoma and skin cancer; cover up and educate, 2003Vitamin D important in infancy, and reduces risk of various diseases, 2001www.cdc.gov
National Institutes of Health, USAHosted vitamin D conference, Oct. 9-10, 2003www.nichd.nih.gov/prip
National Radiological Protection BoardGives advice on limiting exposure to UVR, 2002www.nrpb.org
New Zealand Dermatological SocietyA little sun exposure is necessary for the production of vitamin D; recommends regular use of sunscreensEssential to balance calcium levels and to make strong bones, 2004www.dermnetnz.org/nzds.html
World Health OrganizationINTERSUN ultraviolet radiation project; report from mid-1990swww.who.int/peh-uv