This is an interesting article highlighting yet another example of health advice promoted by governments worldwide which may turn out to be causing people harm:

[W]e’ve been taught to protect ourselves from dangerous UV rays, which can cause skin cancer. Sunscreen also blocks our skin from making vitamin D, but that’s OK, says the American Academy of Dermatology, which takes a zero-tolerance stance on sun exposure: “You need to protect your skin from the sun every day, even when it’s cloudy,” it advises on its website. Better to slather on sunblock, we’ve all been told, and compensate with vitamin D pills.


Yet vitamin D supplementation has failed spectacularly in clinical trials. Five years ago, researchers were already warning that it showed zero benefit, and the evidence has only grown stronger. In November, one of the largest and most rigorous trials of the vitamin ever conducted—in which 25,871 participants received high doses for five years—found no impact on cancer, heart disease, or stroke.


How did we get it so wrong? How could people with low vitamin D levels clearly suffer higher rates of so many diseases and yet not be helped by supplementation?

As it turns out, a rogue band of researchers has had an explanation all along. And if they’re right, it means that once again we have been epically misled.


These rebels argue that what made the people with high vitamin D levels so healthy was not the vitamin itself. That was just a marker. Their vitamin D levels were high because they were getting plenty of exposure to the thing that was really responsible for their good health—that big orange ball shining down from above.

I can’t help thinking we’d see less of this sort of thing if the health “experts” advising governments showed a little less gluttony for power and a lot more humility. The same goes for the politicians who listen to them.


20 thoughts on “Sunshite

  1. That’s very interesting. I was recently diagnosed as having very low Vitamin D, despite spending a lot of time outside and only using sunscreen when its very hot and sunny and I’ll be in it for long periods eg golf and sailing.

    More research needed by me.

  2. In November, one of the largest and most rigorous trials of the vitamin ever conducted—in which 25,871 participants received high doses for five years—found no impact on cancer, heart disease, or stroke.

    I have no recollection of ever being told that vitamin D was supposed to protect me in any way from cancer, heart disease or stroke. It was always more about rickets and the like.

  3. Oh FGS, talk about picking the wrong endpoints. Vitamin D has fuck all to do with cancer, and essentially nothing (unless you have some kind of parathyroid disease or kidney failure, and even then only tangential) heart disease, and stroke.

  4. I am so fair skinned that I burn in 10 minutes in the British summer.
    However even I would never protect my skin when it is cloudy – why would you?

  5. As cancers go, skin cancers are pretty low on the ‘risk of death’ scale and yet we have been battered with warnings for nigh on 50 years telling us to avoid the sun. Which, in essence, means staying indoors.

    “Oh. Hello Consequences. I didn’t expect you”

  6. However even I would never protect my skin when it is cloudy – why would you?

    I believe the clouds only stop ~10% of the UV rays
    Edit: I’m talking bollocks, the answer seems to depend on the type of clouds

  7. Every spring the emails start from school demanding my kids turn up with hats, sunscreen and water…..its the fucking Wirral not the Kalahari.

  8. If not Vit D production why does the Sun supposedly promote health?

    Also Vit D needs K2 to do its work I believe –perhaps that is why the mega-study was negative. I believe there is some evidence that VitD/K can help de-calcify and keep de-calcified the arteries.

  9. Also, completely off-topic but how quickly did the ‘drones bring down Gatwick’ story disappear down the memory hole after it was sheepishly admitted that, well, there perhaps weren’t any drones flying around in the first place?

  10. As cancers go, skin cancers are pretty low on the ‘risk of death’ scale

    Huh? Where do you live? Latitude 50 or something?
    I knew half a dozen people who died of skin cancer. Several more whose lives have been ruined by it.
    I know very few people who’ve not had skin cancers (albeit having a skin cancer is far from dying from it)

    Interestingly, apparently the risk of dying from skin cancer is much much lower among those whose exposure to sunlight did not commence until after the age of Fifteen. (eg, lived in some gentle sunlight type place such as England before the family migrated when you were Sixteen to somewhere the sun is harsh.)

  11. Steve at the Pub

    “I knew half a dozen people who died of skin cancer.”
    “I know very few people who’ve not had skin cancers ”

    That sort of proves my point. What proportion of those who have had lung, ovarian, pancreatic, bowel, throat, etc., do you know who have survived? I also know lots of people who have had skin cancer, but in my 59 years I have only known one who has died: she was 18 and had ignored the sarcoma on her back for two years until it metastasised into her brain.

    The risk of skin cancer has prevented many more people from just getting outside into the sunlight. And it may not be Vit D that lowers cardiac deaths, but – for Europeans at least – exposure to sunlight seems to have a prophylactic effect: map ‘average annual hours of sunlight’ against ‘deaths from cardio-vascular causes’ on a map of Europe and the correlation is striking.

  12. Most people have or have had a basal-cell carcinoma, but that ain’t real proper cancer, that accounts for your “everyone I know has had”.

  13. Taking vitD3 from October to March when confronted by the bleak greyness of 52 degrees North kept me cheerier and away from antidepressants. It took me two years of misery, after arriving from subtropical latitudes, before I started taking them for other reasons. Turning the clocks back causes an immediate rise in unhappy people dragging themselves into GP surgeries.

  14. @George on January 31, 2019 at 10:45 am


    Rickets in eg Glasgow slums – Vit D added by law to margarine in UK, rickets gone

    PHE et al claim everything causes cancer, heart attacks/disease etc. Perhaps PHE could consider ageing causes cancer, heart attacks/disease etc.

    PHE need abolished and their £5bn pa budget used to Treat the sick, not lecture them.

    Me: I take one Tesco multivitamin pd for peace of mind – 0.9p each

  15. @PeteC on January 31, 2019 at 12:45 pm


    And plod admitted it might have been their Dept A drones searching for drones that public were reporting to Dept B

  16. PHE, American Academy of Dermatology, Puritans et al have a solution to Food, Sun, Alcohol, Sugar etc

    At birth, everyone – bar the puritans children – are put in an induced coma, placed in a jar and fed by IV. Then used as and when required.

  17. Most people have or have had a basal-cell carcinoma, but that ain’t real proper cancer, that accounts for your “everyone I know has had”.

    (apologies for using the word “cancers”)

  18. One rather suspects that the issue here is one of confusing correlation for causation–And, that might have arisen anywhere along the logic chain. Healthy people have more Vitamin D? Sure; maybe that’s caused by the Vitamin D, but on the other hand, just maaaaaaaaaaaaaybe the high Vitamin D levels observed in the healthy are due to the subject being in good health?

    It’s like anything; if you set out with a premise, you’re probably going to find data to support it. What needs to happen is quite the opposite; find the data, draw conclusions. What may be happening here is that we’re seeing people with low Vitamin D levels show up sick, and we’re thinking “Oh, that’s the cause… Simple solution: Give them Vitamin D supplements!”, while the reality is that the low Vitamin D level is more a symptom of other problems than the actual, y’know… Cause.

    The medical community has a bit of a problem in that they derive most of their data from the sick and injured. Which is great, but the problem is that they really don’t have a solid handle on what’s going on out in the general population, who’ve felt no need to subject themselves to the ministrations of the doctors. They know what “sick” is, but they don’t have a good handle on what “healthy” might be, or the variation in it.

    Psychologists are notorious for this stuff–Most of them are neurotic as hell, themselves, so they think that everyone else is the same way. Reality? Not so much. I strongly suspect that a lot of the faddish nature of the BS the headshrinkers come up with is strictly due to the fact that they’re all half-nuts to begin with, having gone into that field trying to understand and self-medicate themselves. Either that, or the constant exposure to mental issues is somewhat contagious…

    Kinsey and his notorious “research study” are a good example–He actually included a ton of sexual deviates in his work, mostly because they were the only ones who would talk to him. This is how so many pollsters get elections wrong, because they can’t kidnap you at gunpoint and force you to tell them what you’re actually, really, truly thinking. Nobody these days is going to be at all honest with any of these people, and the average person won’t even talk to them. I would wager long odds that much of that stuff we see generated for the “news” is sheerest moonshine bullshit, spun up by poll-takers who’re tired of being yelled at by the people they’ve gotten off the toilet or whose dinner they’ve interrupted.

    I wouldn’t pay a dime for polling on anything, these days. At all. Focus groups, either, because the person willing to participate in such foolery is fairly likely to be mentally deficient or just seeking attention.

  19. Kirk +eleven. Especially in regard to the paragraph on shrinks. But also, I have long suspected, and I feel it stronger and broader every day, that much of this polling based stuff is made up. Who would know? On top of that, on rare occasions when I have the time to waste talking to them, as long as I can get away without revealing too much specific personal info, I have lied to pollsters. I’m certainly not alone in this regard. And that’s with no serious incentive to do so (yes, call me a sociopath…hey, they called me). And in regard to self reported data in the “guilt” domain of health and such, to believe that people are truthful in such instances seems incredibly naive.

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