Newswise — After 30 years of research and the publication of more than 200 peer-reviewed journal articles, many in the three most prestigious medical journals in the world -- The Lancet, The New England Journal of Medicine and The Journal of the American Medical Association -- Dr. Michael F. Holick, a professor of medicine, physiology, and biophysics at the Boston University School of Medicine, is directly challenging the conventional thinking of the medical establishment by demonstrating how moderate exposure to sun has powerful health benefits in his new book, The UV Advantage, available in bookstores nationwide today. Dr. Holick is considered by many to be one of the nation's foremost authority on vitamin D.

Dr. Holick said, "Today we face what is in fact a 'medically significant' epidemic of vitamin D deficient people. Forty to sixty percent of Americans are seasonally or chronically vitamin D deficient. Many who practice dermatology and their supporters in the sunscreen industry have scared the public right out of the sun, the best way to produce the vitamin D the body needs. These 'naysayers' have ignored the mountain of peer-reviewed science that demonstrates moderate exposure to natural or artificial sunlight has a powerful beneficial impact on health. Simply put the American Academy of Dermatology and the sunscreen industry have their heads buried in the sand," Holick said.

Other leading medical experts agree with Dr. Holick's expertise. Robert P. Heaney, M.D., Professor of Medicine at John Creighton University has said, "Dr. Holick provides a much-needed antidote for the scare tactics of the skin mafia."

John S. Adams, M.D., Firestein Professor of Medicine and Director, Bone Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and UCLA School of Medicine said, "With The UV Advantage, Dr. Holick provides the clinical community with the first balanced, unbiased view of the benefits and dangers of sunlight exposure in the last 50 years."

Holick cautioned, "There are important medical consequences of this continuing rhetorical campaign of fear and exaggerated claims. There is no doubt vitamin D is the best way for the body to control abnormal cell growth which could lead to:

* Improved bone health and prevention of osteoporosis, osteomalacia, and rickets* Reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and breast, colon , prostate and other cancers* Alleviation of skin disorders* Decreased risk of autoimmune disorders including multiple sclerosis, Type I diabetes mellitus, and rheumatoid arthritis* Enhanced mental health and lessening symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, premenstrual syndrome, and depression

"The literature is clear. Adequate amounts of vitamin D cannot be achieved by at the current low levels set years ago by the Institute of Medicine " 200 IU a day. Consumers should routinely be taking five times that amount, 1000 International Units (IU), a day of vitamin D. It is misleading to suggest that nutritional supplementation is the answer. It is not practical to get our daily 1,000 IU of vitamin D from popping a pill. More importantly, supplements do not provide the same benefits as sunshine, and if taken in too large a dose can cause vitamin D toxicity. Also, it is improper for unenlightened dermatologists, many who know little about human nutrition, to suggest consumers can get all the vitamin D from the diet. It would require drinking 10 glasses of milk or fortified orange juice every day or eat fatty fish in the amounts that would satisfy the body's nutritional requirements.

"Consumers should be knowledgeable about the potential risk of skin cancer," he notes, "but the fact is that fewer than half of one percent of those who develop non-melanoma skin cancer die, about 1,200 people a year in the U.S. It is a fact the mortality rates indicate that 150,000 people die of diseases that can be prevented by sensible sun exposure. I am not advocating a return to the baby oil and sun reflector tanning days of the past. This is about a spending a few minutes in natural or artificial sunlight, several times a week " without sunscreen " to satisfy your body's vitamin D requirement; it is not about damaging the skin," he said.

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