A suntan is not only healthy, it can be life-saving Telegraph UK
Oliver Gillie, who is battling leukemia, explains why he blames the disease on a lack of exposure to the sun.
As a science writer he has written extensively on health and vitamin D
Summary and excerpts from the Telegraph article which he wrote
Diagnosed with CLL in 2012
Had heparin injections, steroids, and infusions of Rituximab (£1,222 per dose)
CLL started attacking red blood cells in 2014, causing anemia
It is deeply ironic that vitamin D should play a part in my disease – and I am convinced it has – because I have spent the past 10 years campaigning on the multiple health risks of low vitamin D.
However, my disease, CLL, has been investigated by 40 scientists collaborating in a major European study of cancers involving the lymph glands (these are part of the lymphatic system which fights infection), and their work has been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. They found that CLL was the only lymph gland cancer of several that was consistently associated with low vitamin D. If the low vitamin D was a result of failure to go out in the sun because of illness, people with the other lymphoid cancers would also be expected to have low vitamin D. They do not. This is what scientists call “specificity”, which in this case suggests that low vitamin D may be the cause of my disease.
Dr Kay Tee Khaw, an eminent Cambridge scientist involved in the study, said: “Higher concentrations of vitamin D in the blood are associated with a reduced risk of CLL. These results contribute to the increasing body of evidence showing that insufficient vitamin D may increase risk of the disease.”
Studies of CLL have shown that it arises when white blood cells mutate, and this may occur more easily when vitamin D, which has a controlling effect on their growth, is low. Mutations allow the white cells to multiply out of control and accumulate in the lymph glands, which enlarge and become lymphoma.
It is insufficient vitamin D at an earlier stage in life, including childhood or during pregnancy, that is probably the cause of the CLL mutations in the white cells. So it cannot be expected that CLL will necessarily be corrected in adulthood simply by supplying vitamin D at that stage of life.
I call this error of reasoning the “gold standard fallacy”. In backing this fallacy,
“There is no such thing as a healthy tan”? It must be one of the most successful campaigning slogans ever. But sadly, it was never honest science, based on evidence. Cancer societies round the world, backed by cosmetic companies, beat the slogan into a generation of people, who like me, thought we were protecting ourselves and our children from skin cancer by using suncream and avoiding the sun. Now it is acknowledged that the risk of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, is associated with severe burning and not with straightforward sun exposure.