The Skin Cancer Foundation Journal

MAY 2012

The 2012 edition of The Skin Cancer Foundation Journal features medically reviewed, reader-friendly articles such as tanning, the increasing incidence of skin cancer diagnoses among young women, & the prevalence of melanoma among white males over 50.

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LIFESTYLE Vitamin D: Getting the Message Right MARAL SKELSEY, MD I n 1991 a lawsuit gripped the nation when an elderly man in Massachusetts sued a local dairy claiming that the addition of vitamin D to its milk had caused his sister's death. The sister was believed to have died from a toxic build-up of calcium in her system attributed to the vitamin D supplement that the Crescent Ridge Dairy in Sharon, MA, added to its milk. According to the New York Times, which covered the case, the Crescent Ridge Dairy milk contained more than 500 times the recommended daily amount.1,2,3 Crescent Ridge Dairy lost the case, despite its excellent reputation. The dairy had claimed that fortifying its milk was an attempt to enhance the quality of its product and thereby sell more of it. It seems that the dairy owner's thinking had been, "If some is good, more is better." MUCH ADO ABOUT D Today vitamin D is once again making news. Over the past few years, the idea 44 D defi ciency.4,5,6 Is this vitamin D craze just an extension of the "if some is good, more is better" mentality, or is there sound reasoning behind the vitamin's surge in popularity? that nearly everyone needs extra vi- tamin D has swept the nation. Stories in the media and on the internet are full of claims about possible benefi ts attributed to this important but still somewhat poorly understood micro- nutrient. The information highlighted in the press is not necessarily scientifi - cally proven and occasionally blatantly misleading: vitamin D is called the answer to preventing all cancers, tanning beds are said to promote the body's production of vitamin D, and people are warned that using sun- screen puts them at risk for vitamin The fact is, there's no proof for any of these claims. Many physicians now recommend vitamin D supplements, and more and more people are having their vitamin D level tested as part of routine physi- cal exams.7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14 Vitamin D sales rose 82 percent from 2008 to 2009, reaching $430 million — increasing faster than those of any other supple- ment. 15 According to the Offi ce of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health, vitamin D is being added to more and more foods.15 Is this vitamin D craze just an extension of the "if some is good, more is better" mentality, or is there sound reasoning behind the vitamin's surge in popularity? Taking a closer look at two recent reports can help answer this question. First, consider the 2010 vitamin D report from the highly re- spected Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies. Commissioned by the US and Canadian governments, the report was based on a review of more than 1,000 publications. The 14 SK IN CANCER FOUNDAT ION JOURNA L

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