Second opinion…. actually more light is needed!

Exerpt: “….In the meantime, because of the risk of skin cancer (which is the most common cancer in Canada), the Society will continue to advise Canadians to protect themselves from the sun, particularly between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are at their strongest, or any time of the day when the UV index is three or more….”

DR. WEEKS’ COMMENT: The experts have it backwards. The reason that Canada‘s highest type of cancer is skin cancer is because more Canadians are sun starved and therefore more deficient in the active form of vitamin D3 (which is ANTI-CANCER). The way to reduce the incidence of skin cancer is to increase vitamin D3 dosage to 2000-5000U a day since getting more UVB sunlight is NOT an option in the north. 


Canadian Cancer Society comments on key findings from UV, Vitamin D and Health Conference

25 May 2006

TORONTO – Key findings announced today from the first North American Conference on UV, Vitamin D and Health are welcomed by the Canadian Cancer Society.

“These findings are a good step forward in providing information and direction to Canadians about this important health issue,” says Heather Logan, Director, Cancer Control Policy, Canadian Cancer Society. “The challenge for the Society is to balance the risk of skin damage and skin cancer from unprotected sun exposure with the benefits of getting enough Vitamin D.”

Experts from around the world came together at the conference, organized by the Canadian Cancer Society in March, to discuss the beneficial health effects of Vitamin D. Sunlight is one source of Vitamin D.

There is strong evidence that Vitamin D is needed for healthy bones and muscles and to prevent fractures in the elderly. There is also growing evidence that Vitamin D may reduce the risk for some types of cancer, particularly colorectal cancer.

The conference also looked at the different ways people can get Vitamin D, which are:

  • spending short periods of time in the sun;
  • through supplements;
  • through diet (especially foods fortified with Vitamin D).

The health risks of sun exposure were also explored at the conference.

Based on the key findings, the Society has three messages to convey to Canadians at this time.

Short periods of time in the sun

“While the findings state that sunlight is important for a person’s health, we caution people that a little sun goes a very long way,” says Logan. “We’re definitely not saying, go out and get a tan. For example, it might be possible for some people to get enough sun to produce adequate levels of Vitamin D through a five-minute walk in the morning with no sunscreen.”

Logan adds that, at this time, it is not possible to recommend an exact amount of time that people should spend in the sun.

“The small amounts of sun exposure needed to produce adequate amounts of Vitamin D will depend on many factors such as a person’s age, diet, skin colour, where they live and the intensity of the sun,” she explains. “Future recommendations will likely be tailored to meet the needs of specific groups of people.”

Experts at the conference agreed that more research is needed to define how much Vitamin D is needed to optimize health benefits, and what are the best ways to obtain adequate levels.


Another key finding from the conference identifies Canadians as being at risk of not getting enough Vitamin D during winter when the UV radiation from the sun’s rays are weak. (Sunlight contains both UVA and UVB radiation; UVB radiation promotes Vitamin D production in the skin.)

“As a result, Canadians may want to consider taking Vitamin D supplements during the winter,” says Logan.

The recommended daily dose of Vitamin D for adults is:

  • 200 IU (international units) up to the age 50;
  • 400 IU for 50-70;
  • and 600 IU for over age 70.

Many experts now consider these doses to be too low for optimal health. The safe upper limit is 2,000 IU daily. “Most likely the right amount is somewhere between 200 and 2,000 international units of Vitamin D,” says Logan. “At this point, we can’t be more precise as more research is needed to determine how much Vitamin D is needed for optimal health benefits.”

The Society advises that if people are concerned about adequate Vitamin D levels, they should discuss supplementation with their healthcare providers.


Diet is another source of Vitamin D, but Logan says that “diet alone would not be enough to obtain adequate levels of Vitamin D; however, it would be a way to supplement other sources.”

Vitamin D is found in oily fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines and herrings. It’s also found in milk, soy milk and margarine, which are fortified with Vitamin D.

Logan adds that when more is known about optimum levels of Vitamin D, the best way, or combination of ways to achieve this level, can be explored more fully – including exposure to the sun. “The health groups believe it’s important to offer people a choice about how they wish to obtain this vitamin. For example, some people may not like taking pills, or may not be able to afford them.”

Logan says that the Society will be updating information on its website about sun protection and Vitamin D based on the continuing work of the health groups. In addition, as more information is available about this topic through research, Canadians will be informed. “We are committed to relaying current information about cancer to Canadians so they can make informed choices.”

In the meantime, because of the risk of skin cancer (which is the most common cancer in Canada), the Society will continue to advise Canadians to protect themselves from the sun, particularly between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are at their strongest, or any time of the day when the UV index is three or more. People should seek shade and use an SPF of 15 or higher.

“We encourage people to get outside and be active,” says Logan. “However, there is consensus among the experts that exposure to UV radiation from the sun and other sources, such as tanning beds, can cause skin cancer and cataracts, so protection is still needed.”

Sun Awareness Week is May 29 to June 4.

Editor’s note:

See also: Key Findings Released from UV, Vitamin D and Health Conference .

Comments from other organizations

Dietitians of Canada

American Cancer Society

Media backgrounders

National Health Groups Recognize Benefits of Vitamin D

Canadian Cancer Society’s Sun Protection Guidelines

Conference on Vitamin D, UV and Health

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is to eradicate cancer and to enhance the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

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