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Sun protection messages, vitamin D and skin cancer: out of the frying pan and into the fire?

Monika Janda, Michael G Kimlin, David C Whiteman, Joanne F Aitken and Rachel E Neale
Med J Aust 2007; 186 (2): 52-53.
Published online: 15 January 2007

Expert guidance is needed to balance the benefits and risks of sun exposure

Vitamin D (defined in this article as serum 25-hydroxy-vitamin D) is largely obtained through the effect of sunlight on the skin. Vitamin D plays an undeniably important role in maintenance of bone health, preventing the development of rickets and osteomalacia. However, there has been increasing recent media attention given to research findings that suggest other possible benefits of vitamin D, such as prevention of certain cancers or multiple sclerosis.1,2 In the first 6 months of 2006, seven of 124 daily updates on “cancer-related news” (6%) monitored by The Cancer Council Australia featured at least one item on the importance of sun exposure for obtaining sufficient vitamin D to prevent chronic diseases. Given that the primary source of health information for most Australians is the media,3 such reports have the potential to change attitudes and behaviours to sun exposure.

  • Monika Janda1,2
  • Michael G Kimlin2
  • David C Whiteman3
  • Joanne F Aitken1
  • Rachel E Neale1,3

  • 1 Viertel Centre for Research in Cancer Control, Queensland Cancer Fund, Brisbane, QLD.
  • 2 Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD.
  • 3 Population Studies and Human Genetics, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Brisbane, QLD.

Correspondence: m.janda@qut.edu.au

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