Sunday, June 26, 2011

Which Industry Funds Your Study? Sun Exposure and Vitamin D

I decided after reading up about Vitamin D the other day, and hearing that it may prevent sunburns as well, that I would look for more articles on that. Well, I found an article that made me want to laugh when I read the abstract. In fact, if it weren't for the erroneous statement they made, I probably wouldn't have bothered reading it. I found more erroneous propositions in it of course. And these people call themselves researchers? This is the problem with medical research in this country today. Seemingly educated people make stupid assumptions and it gets translated into "common knowledge." So what has irked me so? This from this article, about how terrible the sun is for you:

"When nature gave man the appealing capacity for vit D photosynthesis, the expected lifespan was far less than 40 years."

And these people are "educated"? First of all, average lifespan during the paleolithic is arguable. Secondly, the "average" is dragged down by infant mortality. During the paleolithic if one lived past the age of five and did not succumb to infection disease, one probably had just as much chance to live to eighty as they do now. So the whole "expected lifespan" is irrelevant to their argument. Completely irrelevant. I learned this in introductory archaeology.

Secondly, when evolution chooses for something, it has to be before child bearing age. In other words, it has to happen before you pass it onto your offspring. So, things that are bad for us later in life, are not evolutionarily chosen for. This is basic biology. Who are these people? And who is paying them to write this crap?

"The causal role of UV irradiation in both non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) and melanoma has been suspected by experienced clinicians and epidemiologists for well more than a century and was demonstrated repeatedly in studies of hairless mice and other animal models beginning in the 1920s."
Yes because we're genetically altered hairless mice. And they suspect UV irradiation causes skin cancer, so therefore it must be true. Wait. What? This doesn't convince me of anything except that whoever wrote this article has the critical thinking skills of a dung beetle. What's even more amusing is they cite an article from 1928. Yes, I'm not making that up. In 1928, they had just figured out that Pellagra wasn't an infectious disease. Incidentally, that's the same year that Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin. My, how far we've come. I need a sarcasm font, but I digress.
"Photoaging changes, even aside from the strongly associated skin cancer risk, is a source of distress for a majority of fair-skinned adults beyond the age of 40–50 years and has spawned a multi-billion dollar skin rejuvenation market. The cause-and-effect relationship between UV exposure and photoaging, like the relationship with skin cancer, has been well documented in mouse models."

Again, I'm not a mouse. I've heard of this type of argument before, it's called an appeal to the vain. Someone should make a snark font, I could use it now. I'm sorry, but no one's skin looks very good at 70, sun or no, unless they've got a plastic surgeon on call. And what does this have to do with cancer?
"...the attractiveness of a tan became embedded in the public psyche and remains there to this day, nearly a century later, despite the revised medical and scientific perception of a tan as a DNA damage response and widespread appreciation that UV exposure often leads to skin cancer."

So now we're at the museum. One of my favorite pieces that I have an appreciation for is Meindert Hobbema's Avenue at Middelharnis. It gives the perception that one is standing, looking down a road in 17th century Holland. Are we in Art History class or doing medical research? I call shenanigans.
"In the 1980s, studies employing normal human volunteers and multiple narrow band UV light sources determined the relative efficacy of different wavelengths of light in producing sunburn and suntan as well as epidermal DNA damage."

In other words, they stuck people under artificial UV light sources. Not the sun. I would think that makes the study pretty irrelevant when it comes to actual sun exposure. How is artificial light the same? I know that it could be composed of the same UV rays, but is it the same? Might there not be some difference, that without doing an actual study where you, oh I don't know, put people in the sun, you'd never know there was a difference? But what do I know, I'm just an artist.

This article has a real problem with what they call the "tanning bed" industry. However, I'm thinking that since they put a large plug in for sunscreen, I believe I know where their funding came from.
"If 2–8 min of unprotected summer sun exposure is required to optimize cutaneous vit D synthesis..."
Except it's not. If 2-8 minutes of sun were enough then no one would be deficient in Vitamin D. What the rest of that sentence goes onto say, is that 10-20 minutes is plenty if wearing sunscreen. Yeah, you can't make this stuff up.
"The confusing and misleading media coverage of the “vit D controversy” over the past few years has unfortunately indeed undermined the campaign to reduce the current excessive sun exposure in our society."

Is that anything like the low-fat campaign? I'm to the point that if authority figures tell me I should do something, I believe I should do the opposite.

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