Excessive sunscreen use might be playing a major role in the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and related adverse health conditions, an analysis published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association revealed. According to researchers from the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Touro University, California, vitamin D prevalence in the U.S. showed a significant increase from 45 percent to 75 percent over the last 25 years. The research team also noted that 95 percent of African Americans have inadequate vitamin D levels.
The research team noted that using thick, highly-protective sunscreen may be behind the reason in the prevalent vitamin D deficiency, as the chemicals block the beneficial sunlight from reaching the skin and stimulating vitamin D production. The health experts stressed that sunscreens containing SPF 15 or higher diminished vitamin D production by 99 percent. According to the research team, the vitamin provided anti-inflammatory effects and is essential in the body’s immune function. The health experts cautioned that this lack in vitamin D could lead to the onset of a host of adverse medical conditions. However, the researchers noted that simple brisk walking and eating foods high in vitamin D are enough to make up for vitamin deficiency.
“People are spending less time outside and, when they do go out, they’re typically wearing sunscreen, which essentially nullifies the body’s ability to produce vitamin D. While we want people to protect themselves against skin cancer, there are healthy, moderate levels of unprotected sun exposure that can be very helpful in boosting vitamin D,” said study co-author Dr. Kim Pfotenhauer in MedicalNewsToday.com.
Low vitamin D may lead to a plethora of diseases
Inadequate vitamin D levels may trigger the onset of various adverse health conditions such as diabetes and certain types of cancer. An analysis conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Warwick, University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire Coventry in the U.K. revealed that vitamin D deficiency was associated with increased odds of bladder cancer. As part of the review, the research team analyzed data from seven clinical studies with cohort populations between 112 to 1125 participants. According to the experts, five out of seven studies found a correlation between low vitamin D levels and higher bladder cancer risk. “More clinical studies are required to test this association, but our work suggests that low levels of vitamin D in the blood may prevent the cells within the bladder from stimulating an adequate response to abnormal cells. As vitamin D is cheap and safe, its potential use in cancer prevention is exciting and could potentially impact on the lives of many people,” said lead author Dr. Rosemary Bland. The findings were presented at the annual conference of the Society for Endocrinology.
German researchers also found that inadequate vitamin D levels may increase the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and premature death. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers from the German Cancer Research Center examined participants aged 50 to 70 years old and found that the risk of all-cause mortality was significantly higher in those who had vitamin D deficiency. Another German study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention revealed that low vitamin D levels were associated with increased odds of prostate, lung, colorectal and other types of cancer in middle-aged and senior patients. (Discover more science news on nutrients and disease prevention at Prevention.news.)
Vitamin D deficiency was also found to exacerbate disease-related complications in patients with type-2 diabetes, according to a study published in the Journal of Diabetes Research. As part of the study, researchers examined 139 type-2 diabetes patients and compared them with 144 otherwise healthy patients. The research team found that the prevalence and severity of diabetic retinopathy was more pronounced in patients with low vitamin D levels.