Monday, July 14, 2008

How to Cause a Cancer Epidemic

A report came out recently showing that melanoma incidence has increased dramatically in the US since 1973, particularly among women. The authors suggested the rise could be due to increasing sun exposure, which I am highly skeptical of. The data he cites to support that idea are quite weak. I think the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in this country suggests otherwise.

Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer, and the only type that is commonly life-threatening. Its link to sun exposure is tenuous at best. For example, it often occurs on the least sun-exposed parts of the body, and its incidence is lower in outdoor workers.

What is the solution to rising melanoma incidence? Sunblock! Slather it on, ladies and gentlemen! No matter that we evolved outdoors! No matter that it may do nothing for melanoma incidence or mortality! No matter that you'll be vitamin D deficient! No matter that it contains known carcinogens! 30+ SPF, the more the better. Don't let one single deadly UV photon through.

The irony of all this is that if you believe the data on vitamin D, avoiding the sun would cause many more cancers than it would prevent, even if all melanoma were due to sun exposure.

No comments:

Post a Comment