The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Sometimes I Am Just in Awe 

My last trip to the doctor was only a few months ago... some will remember my blog post about it. That was my first trip to the doctor in... well... many people have since yelled at me saying it was far too long. Yet every time I read the news these days, I wonder whether staying away from the doctor isn't one of the smartest things you can do. For instance, had I gone to the doctor more often, he probably would have told me to make sure to put on plenty of sun screen before running or biking (something I never do). This advice may be bad:

Scientists are excited about a vitamin again. But unlike fads that sizzled and fizzled, the evidence this time is strong and keeps growing. If it bears out, it will challenge one of medicine's most fundamental beliefs: that people need to coat themselves with sunscreen whenever they're in the sun. Doing that may actually contribute to far more cancer deaths than it prevents, some researchers think.

The vitamin is D, nicknamed the "sunshine vitamin" because the skin makes it from ultraviolet rays. Sunscreen blocks its production, but dermatologists and health agencies have long preached that such lotions are needed to prevent skin cancer. Now some scientists are questioning that advice. The reason is that vitamin D increasingly seems important for preventing and even treating many types of cancer.

In the last three months alone, four separate studies found it helped protect against lymphoma and cancers of the prostate, lung and, ironically, the skin. The strongest evidence is for colon cancer.

I knew of someone who used to keep a notebook for stories like this. Every time he saw an article in the paper about how X was bad for you, he would put it on one page of the book. Then he would wait for the article in the paper that said that X was good for you, and put it on the opposite page of the notebook. He quickly filled it up with studies on how coffee was bad, then good for you. Eggs are bad for you... oh wait... no they're not. Sun screen is very important... no wait... it leads to skin cancer.

I actually don't find this news very surprising. People have been more conscious of skin cancer over the last 10 or 15 years, and more and more people are religious about sun screen. Yet the incidence of skin cancer continues to go up. Maybe there was a connection. Go figure.


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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.

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