Australia bans sunbeds in every state in a bid to slash deaths from skin cancer.

Australia is to ban all commercial sunbeds in a bid to slash skin cancer rates.

Every state has now either banned or is planning to outlaw commercial sunbeds due to the country having some of the highest skin cancer rates in the world.

The condition is responsible for more than 2,000 deaths and 80 per cent of all new cancer diagnoses.

Every Australian state has now either banned or is planning to outlaw commercial sunbeds due to the country having some of the highest skin cancer rates in the worldEvery Australian state has now either banned or is planning to outlaw commercial sunbeds due to the country having some of the highest skin cancer rates in the world

On Sunday, the Queensland government announced a total ban on commercial sunbeds by December 31 next year.

The state’s 44 solarium operators will be paid $1,000 AUD (£600) in compensation for each tanning bed – a total cost of $160,000 (£9,540), Sky News reported.

The move came after other states – New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT all took steps to regulate or ban sunbed use.

Following the Queensland announcement, Dr Kim Hames, health minister of Western Australia – the only remaining state left to act – announced he was also preparing documents to ban sunbeds.

Cases of malignant melanoma - the deadliest skin cancer - have doubled in the last decadeCases of malignant melanoma – the deadliest skin cancer – have doubled in the last decade

He told Fairfax Radio: ‘There is no doubt about the increased risk of cancer – so I think the chances are (a ban in WA) won’t be far away.’

‘I have to take it to cabinet, but if it happens it will happen in the next three months,’ Dr Hames told Fairfax radio.

Research has shown that people who have ever used a sunbed are 20 per cent more likely to  develop melanoma later in life, compared to people who had never used one.

And those who started using sunbeds before the age of 35 were 87 per cent more likely to develop melanoma compared to people who have never used a sunbed.

Cases of malignant melanoma – the deadliest skin cancer – have doubled in the last decade, according to figures from Cancer Research UK.

Around 13,000 Britons are diagnosed with the illness each year and it causes 2,800 deaths.

The Australian crackdown comes after Brazil outlawed tanning beds, along with U.S. states such as Vermont and California. In the UK, people under 18 are banned from using sunbeds.

Tanning beds became increasingly popular among young Australians around 15-20 years ago. But numbers have fallen dramatically since a similar ban for under 18s was introduced.

Sara Osborne, Cancer Research UK’s head of policy, said: ‘It’s encouraging to see the Australian Government tackling this important issue and it will be interesting to see the response in other countries.

The Australian crackdown comes after Brazil outlawed tanning beds, along with U.S. states such as Vermont and California. In the UK, people under 18 are banned from using sunbedsThe Australian crackdown comes after Brazil outlawed tanning beds, along with U.S. states such as Vermont and California. In the UK, people under 18 are banned from using sunbeds

‘The evidence linking sun bed use and skin cancer is very clear. Overexposure to UV rays from the sun or sunbeds is the main cause of skin cancer, including malignant melanoma – the most serious form of the disease – which sadly kills around six people every day in the UK.

‘Cancer Research UK urges people not to use sunbeds for cosmetic reasons. The charity was involved in the successful campaign to introduce a ban on under-18s using them and is now asking the Government to give local authorities the power to license any businesses that provide sunbeds and to inform users of the health risks.

Nanotechnology May Lead To The End Of Laundry Forever.

A few months ago, I reported on the futuristic possibility of robots learning how to do laundry. Alas, technology marches on, and it may well be that laundry robots are already obsolete. Several different companies using nanotechnology are working on products that may well spell the end of the need to do laundry – forever.


Take, for example, Schoeller textile’s Nanosphere technology. This is a finishing technology utilizing polymer nanospheres which take their cues from the way leaves let water run right off of them. Schoeller has partnered with several different companies to use their finishing technology on their clothing. Perhaps one of the most notable companies they’ve partnered with is iRepel, which makes chef shirts and aprons, and whose products are featured on ThinkGeek.

Check out a video of the iRepel chef shirt in action below:

Another interesting bit of research was recently published describing cotton shirts that are treated with Titanium Oxide particles. When exposed to light in the visible spectrum, the fabric turns out to be self-cleaning. Robert Gonzales has a nice writeup of the technology in io9.

Simply put, Long and Wu’s fabric is more versatile. For decades, TiO2 was only known to exhibit photocatalytic properties in the presence of ultraviolet light. But recently, it was shown that spiking TiO2 with nitrogen ions gives it photocatalytic capabilities in UV light and visible light. By coating their fabric with nano particles made from this new N-TiO2, the researchers have created a fabric that self-cleans in the presence of a very broad spectrum of light. What’s more, they found that further dispersing additional silver iodide nanoparticles in the fabric accelerated the N-TiO2‘s stain-fighting properties.

Neat as that particular fabric sounds, however, I think I might hold off on buying a shirt made from it until we’re sure that Titanium Oxide doesn’t cause brain damage. If it’s safe, however, that’s a pretty amazing thing – just lay your shirts out in the sun and they clean themselves.

Perhaps one of the most amazing upcoming nanotech coatings, however, is Ross Nanotechnology’s Neverwet. Neverwet is a superhydrophobic coating that can be used on a variety of surfaces, including use as a spray coating for clothing, the way you might use a typical waterproofing spray. Check out this video from LancasterOnline showing the coating applied to a pair of shoes – chocolate syrup literally runs right off of them.

With more and more companies using nanotechnology create clothing and other materials that are resistant to water and staining, it may not be too long before we never have to do the laundry again – because our clothes are always clean. Imagine the time, money, energy and money that would save.  Especially imagine the benefits for people living in developing countries where all the laundry is done by hand. Not only does the lack of laundry mean cleaner water, it means that people can be spared hours of tedious, backbreaking labor.

This is one of those things that seems kind of neat at first – hey look, no stains! But when you think about it, the ramifications for day to day life are pretty extraordinary. I’m excited to see where this technology goes.

Also, I look forward to never having to do laundry again. I’m also glad that robots won’t be doing the laundry, either. That’s just one less reason for them to want to rise up and overthrow their human masters.


Sensible Sun Exposure Can Help Prevent Melanoma, Breast Cancer, and Hundreds of Other Health Problems.

Story at-a-glance

  • Exposure to sunlight increases nitric oxide production in your body, which lowers blood pressure and benefits your cardiovascular system. According to researchers, this benefit alone may outweigh the potential skin cancer risk
  • Vitamin D from sensible sun exposure appears essential in preventing 16 different types of cancer, including melanoma, and a host of other health problems like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia, fractures, and infections; in fact, optimizing your vitamin D with sun exposure may cut your risk of dying from all causes in half
  • Melanoma does not appear to be caused by UV exposure
  • Increased melanoma rates reported by health officials are caused by misclassification of non-cancerous lesions as “stage 1 melanoma.” 90 percent of melanoma surgeries end up not being melanoma and are unnecessary. Studies show avoiding the sun actually increases your risk for this deadly cancer
  • Sunshine is so important to your overall health that science is now finding a connection between the strength of your immune system and the month you were born, called the “birth month effect”
  • A growing body of research clearly shows the absolute necessity of vitamin D for good health and disease prevention. However, despite vitamin D’s role in keeping your body ticking along like a well-oiled clock, you are likely deficient in the “sunshine vitamin”—because the majority of people are.
  • Our vitamin D levels have dropped as a result of being scared sunless by those spreading misinformation that the sun causes melanoma, a myth that survives by mass promotion but really lacks any factual basis. It has been repeated so many times that most people believe it.
  • Vitamin D affects your biological function by influencing nearly 3,000 of your genes through vitamin D receptors. In fact, vitamin D receptors are found throughout your body, which should come as no surprise, given we humans evolved in the sun.
  • Recent research1,2 has also revealed yet another benefit of sun exposure beyond the protective benefits of producing vitamin D, namely the production of nitric oxide—a compound that lowers your blood pressure.
  • According to the researchers, the heart-health benefits from this may outweigh the risk of developing skin cancer. Your vitamin D level varies not only with time of day, season, and geographic location, but also with your genetics.
  • For example, if you have dark skin, you may need up to 10 times more sun exposure to maintain an optimal vitamin D level as a person with pale skin.Redheads have to be particularly careful, as they appear to be genetically predisposed to developing melanoma, regardless of whether or not they spend time in the sun.
  • melanoma

Sunshine’s gifts extend well beyond vitamin D production. As discussed in the featured article by Sayer Ji,3 five of the many noteworthy properties of sunlight include:

  1. Pain-killing (analgesic) properties
  2. Increased subcutaneous fat metabolism
  3. Regulation of human lifespan (solar cycles appear to be able to directly affect the human genome, thereby influencing lifespan)
  4. Daytime sun exposure improves evening alertness
  5. Conversion to metabolic energy (i.e. we may “ingest” energy directly from the sun, like plants do)

When it comes to vitamin D production, the benefits are simply immeasurable. In fact, correcting a vitamin D deficiency may cut your risk of dying in half, according to an analysis of more than 10,000 individuals.

According to a January 2013 press release by Orthomolecular Medicine4, 3,600 medical papers with vitamin D in the title or abstract were published in 2012 alone, bringing the grand total to 33,800. Research to date shows vitamin D has far reaching benefits to your physical and mental health, with the following chart representing only the tip of the sunbeam.

Pregnancy outcomes (reduced risk of Cesarean section and pre-eclampsia) Autism
Childhood language impairment Cardiovascular disease
Type 1 diabetes Alzheimer’s disease
Type 2 diabetes Bacterial and viral infections
Falls and bone fractures 16 different types of cancer
Stroke All-cause mortality

Another Way Sun Exposure Protects Your Heart Health

UVB exposure also improves your mood and energy level, helps regulate melatonin, and, as mentioned earlier, increases nitric oxide production5, which benefits your cardiovascular system. With regards to the latter:

“Richard Weller, Senior Lecturer in Dermatology, and colleagues, say the effect is such that overall, sun exposure could improve health and even prolong life, because the benefits of reducing blood pressure, cutting heart attacks and strokes, far outweigh the risk of getting skin cancer,” Medical News Today reports6.

Weller and colleagues found that the body’s production of nitric oxide is separate from production of vitamin D… Human skin contains large stores of nitrite (NO2) and nitrate (NO3). The researchers note that while nitrate is “biologically inert”, the action of sunlight can reduce it to active nitrite and nitric oxide (NO).They found that circulatory nitrate fell and nitrite rose during UV and heat exposure, but not during exposure to heat only. There was no difference in vitamin D levels.

Weller says in a statement that: ‘We suspect that the benefits to heart health of sunlight will outweigh the risk of skin cancer. The work we have done provides a mechanism that might account for this, and also explains why dietary vitamin D supplements alone will not be able to compensate for lack of sunlight… If this confirms that sunlight reduces the death rate from all causes, we will need to reconsider our advice on sun exposure.'”

Skin Cancer, in Brief

Before we discuss melanoma, you need a basic understanding of the three most common types of skin cancer, each named for the type of cells affected:

  1. Basal cell carcinoma (BCC): Begins in the basal cell layer of the skin, typically on the face; the most common form of skin cancer and the most common type of cancer in humans; least likely skin cancer to spread.7
  2. Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC): Begins in the squamous cells, typically on the face, neck, ears, lips, and backs of hands; tends to grow and spread a bit more than BCC.
  3. Melanoma: Begins in the melanocytes (the cells that produce the pigment melanin, responsible for your tan); melanin protects the deeper layers of your skin from excess radiation. Melanoma is more likely than other types of skin cancer to spread to other parts of your body and causes more deaths than any other type of skin cancer.8

Don’t Fall for the Melanoma Myth

If you believe the lure of the sun is equivalent to the siren’s call for melanoma, you’ll be relieved to learn melanoma is not actually caused by sun exposure, unlike the other two types of skin cancer, BCC and SCC. Although the reported number of new cases of melanoma in the US has been reportedly increasing for more than 30 years,9 a landmark study in the British Journal of Dermatology10 suggests this apparent increase is a result of non-cancerous lesions being misclassified as “stage 1 melanoma.” In other words, people are being diagnosed with melanoma even when they have only a minimal, non-cancerous lesion, and these diagnoses are significantly skewing cancer statistics.11 The sun is nothing more than a scapegoat in this phenomenon of “increased melanoma.”

But this misdiagnosis is doing more than just skewing statistics—it’s causing a mountain of unnecessary melanoma surgeries. A study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology12 found that 90 percent of melanoma excisions end up NOT being melanoma at all. But if the sun doesn’t cause melanoma, then what does?

The REAL Role of the Sun in Melanoma

As with all serious diseases, there are multiple interacting factors that cause your immune system to go awry, such as nutrition, environmental toxins, stress, inadequate sleep, etc. But for melanoma, the sun does appear to have a significant role—melanoma may signify too little of it!

Studies show melanoma mortality actually decreases after UV exposure. Additionally, melanoma lesions do not predominate sun-exposed skin, which is why sunscreens have proven ineffective in preventing it. Exposure to sunlight, particularly UVB, is protective against melanoma—or rather, the vitamin D your body produces in response to UVB radiation is protective. The following passage comes from The Lancet:13

“Paradoxically, outdoor workers have a decreased risk of melanoma compared with indoor workers, suggesting that chronic sunlight exposure can have a protective effect.”

And this from the British Medical Journal:14

“There is solid descriptive, quantitative, and mechanistic proof that ultraviolet rays cause the main skin cancers (basal and squamous). They develop in pale, sun exposed skin, are related to degree of exposure and latitude, are fewer with avoidance and protection, are readily produced experimentally, and are the overwhelmingly predominant tumor in xeroderma pigmentosum, where DNA repair of ultraviolet light damage is impaired. None of these is found with melanoma.”

The bottom line is, by avoiding the sun, your risk for vitamin D deficiency skyrockets, which increases your odds of developing melanoma and a multitude of other diseases. The risks associated with insufficient vitamin D are far greater than those posed by basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas, which are fairly benign by comparison, as you’ll see by reading on.

Theories linking vitamin D deficiency to cancer have been tested and confirmed in more than 200 epidemiological studies, and understanding of its physiological basis stems from more than 2,500 laboratory studies. In the above interview, GrassrootsHealthfounder Carole Baggerly believes 90 percent of ordinary breast cancer is related to vitamin D deficiency. In fact, breast cancer has been described as a “vitamin D deficiency syndrome.” The way vitamin D interferes with breast cancer’s ability to spread is by affecting the structure of those cells—without adequate vitamin D, they fall apart and are forced to “overmultiply” in order to survive.

Previous research has shown that optimizing your vitamin D levels can reduce your risk for as many as 16 different types of cancer, including pancreatic, lung, ovarian, breast, prostate, and skin cancers. A study of menopausal women showed that maintaining vitamin D serum levels of 40ng/ml lowers overall cancer risk by 77 percent.

Two recent papers in the journal Science Express15 shed light on how cancer might begin. A cancer cell can be created when unusual mutations occur in a small area of its DNA that controls and regulates its genes, as contrasted with mutations in the genes themselves. The mutations spur the cell to make telomerase. One of the functions of telomerase is to prevent telomere shortening, which leads to cell death. According to Harvard researchers, abundant telomerase is so important to cancers that it appears in nine out of ten.

In addition to being a strong cancer preventative, vitamin D is crucial for pregnant women and their babies, lowering the risk for preterm birth, low birth weight, and C-section. And sadly, 80 percent of pregnant women have inadequate vitamin D levels.

Low Vitamin D in Pregnancy May Increase Your Baby’s Risk for Multiple Sclerosis Later in Life

Sunshine is so important to your overall health that science is now finding a connection between the strength of your immune system and your birthday, called the “birth month effect.” If you were born in the spring, you are statistically more vulnerable to developing an autoimmune disease such as multiple sclerosis (MS), than if you were born in the fall.16, 17

Why would this be?

Some researchers suggest it’s related to a pregnant woman’s vitamin D levels during her baby’s gestation. April and May babies have been gestating during the colder, darker months, as opposed to November and December babies, who’ve been developing over the spring and summer. Now a study in JAMA Neurology18 shows this hunch may be correct, suggesting a mechanism related to thymic development. Another study suggests sun exposure and vitamin D may play roles in the CNS demyelination associated with MS.19

And the sun can lift your mood! New research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine shows that Google searches for mental health related issues drop by 15 to 42 percent during the summer months, which could very well be related to the boost in vitamin D.20 Vitamin D deficiency is a known factor in cognitive impairment and dementia.

Safely exposing your bare skin to the sun is the best way to optimize your vitamin D levels, and is therefore the best protection against melanoma. Sunburn should be avoided at all cost. I recommend reading our article about safe sunning guidelines and listening to the video above for detailed instructions about how to do this safely and effectively.

Vitamin D3 is an oil-soluble steroid hormone (the term “vitamin” is a misnomer) that forms when your skin is exposed to UVB radiation from the sun or a safe tanning bed. When UVB strikes the surface of your skin, your skin converts a cholesterol derivative into vitamin D3. It takes up to 48 hours for this D3 to be absorbed into your bloodstream to raise your vitamin D levels. Therefore, it’s important to avoid washing your skin with soap for 48 hours after sun exposure. In case you do develop a sunburn, immediately apply raw aloe vera, as it’s one of the best skin remedies.

As a general guideline, research by GrassrootsHealth suggests that adults need about 8,000 IU’s per day to achieve a serum level of 40 ng/ml. If you opt for a vitamin D supplement, you also need to boost your intake of vitamin K2 through food and/or a supplement. How do you know if your vitamin D level is in the right range? The most important factor is having your vitamin D serum level tested every six months, as people vary widely in their response to ultraviolet exposure or oral D3 supplementation. Your goal is to reach a clinically relevant serum level of 50-70 ng/ml.

Overuse of Sunscreen May Turn You into a Melanoma Magnet

Following the advise of health officials’ to slather on sunscreen may increase your melanoma risk instead of decreasing it, which is certainly not what you want. Indeed, you never want to let yourself burn. However, if you practice safe sunning, you will avail yourself of all of the sun’s health benefits with none of the risk.

If you do use a sunscreen, please be careful about which product you choose as many sunscreen products contain chemicals you don’t want absorbed into your body. According to the Environmental Working Group’s 2012 Sunscreen Guide,21 about 75 percent of sunscreens contain potentially harmful ingredients, such as oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate. Avoid products with SPFs higher than 50, and make sure yours offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

Keep in mind SPF only protects against UVBs—but it’s the UVAs that increase your risk for skin cancer and are responsible for photoaging your skin. Recall that it’s the UVBs that stimulate your vitamin D production, so you don’t want to block out too many of them.

Using an “internal sunscreen” is an alternative to topical sunblock agents. Astaxanthin—a potent antioxidant—has been found to offer effective protection against sun damage when taken as a daily supplement. It can also be used topically and a number of topical sunscreen products contain it. Some sunscreens are also starting to use astaxanthin as an ingredient to protect your skin from damage. As an alternative, you can cover up with lightweight clothing to protect yourself. Sometimes we forget about the simple things, like simply wearing a hat.

For the latest information about vitamin D, please visit our Vitamin D News and Information page.

How Vitamin D Performance Testing Can Help Optimize Your Health

Additionally, a robust and growing body of research clearly shows that vitamin D is absolutely critical for good health and disease prevention. Vitamin D affects your DNA through vitamin D receptors (VDRs), which bind to specific locations of the human genome. Scientists have identified nearly 3,000 genes that are influenced by vitamin D levels, and vitamin D receptors have been found throughout the human body.

Is it any wonder then that no matter what disease or condition is investigated, vitamin D appears to play a crucial role? This is why I am so excited about the D*Action Project by GrassrootsHealth. It is showing how you can take action today on known science with a consensus of experts without waiting for institutional lethargy. It has shown how by combining the science of measurement (of vitamin D levels) with the personal choice of taking action and, the value of education about individual measures that one can truly be in charge of their own health.

In order to spread this health movement to more communities, the project needs your involvement. This is an ongoing campaign during the month of February, and will become an annual event.

To participate, simply purchase the D*Action Measurement Kit and follow the registration instructions included. (Please note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the kits go to fund the research project. I do not charge a single dime as a distributor of the test kits.)

As a participant, you agree to test your vitamin D levels twice a year during a five-year program, and share your health status to demonstrate the public health impact of this nutrient. There is a $65 fee every 6 months for your sponsorship of the project, which includes a test kit to be used at home, and electronic reports on your ongoing progress. You will get a follow up email every six months reminding you “it’s time for your next test and health survey.”



Sunless tanning: What you need to know.

Sunless tanning is a practical alternative to sunbathing. Find out how sunless tanning products work, including possible risks and how to get the best results.

Don’t want to expose your skin to the sun’s damaging rays, but still want that sun-kissed glow? Consider trying sunless tanning products. Start by understanding how sunless tanning products work — and the importance of applying them carefully and correctly.

How do sunless tanning products work?

Sunless tanning products, also called self-tanners, can give your skin a tanned look without exposing it to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Sunless tanning products are commonly sold as lotions and sprays you apply to your skin. Professional spray-on tanning also is available at many salons, spas and tanning businesses.

The active ingredient in most sunless tanning products is the color additive, dihydroxyacetone. When applied, dihydroxyacetone reacts with dead cells in the skin’s surface to temporarily darken the skin. The coloring typically wears off after a few days.

Sunless tanning products might or might not contain sunscreen. If a product does contain sunscreen, it will only be effective for a couple of hours. The color produced by the sunless tanning product won’t protect your skin from ultraviolet rays. If you spend time outdoors, sunscreen remains essential.

What about sunless tanning pills?

Sunless tanning pills, which typically contain the color additive canthaxanthin, are unsafe. When taken in large amounts, canthaxanthin can turn your skin orange or brown and cause hives, liver damage and impaired vision.

Is sunless tanning safe?

Topical sunless tanning products are generally considered safe alternatives to sunbathing, as long as they’re used as directed.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved dihydroxyacetone for external application to the skin. However, the FDA hasn’t approved the use of dihydroxyacetone for application to areas near the eyes, mouth or nose. If you’re using a sunless tanning lotion, it’s easy to avoid these areas. With spray tanning, this might be more difficult — since the product is usually applied to the whole body to ensure even color. Spray tanning might also cause you to inhale the product.

Further research is needed to determine the risks — if any — of this type of exposure. In the meantime, protect your eyes, mouth and nose when spray tanning and avoid inhaling the product. Be sure to wear goggles and nose plugs, and hold your breath while the spray is being applied.

What’s the best way to apply a sunless tanning lotion?

For best results, follow the package directions carefully. In general:

  • Exfoliate first. Before using a sunless tanning product, wash your skin to remove excess dead skin cells. Spend a little extra time exfoliating areas with thick skin, such as your knees, elbows and ankles.
  • Apply in sections. Massage the product into your skin in a circular motion. Apply the tanner to your body in sections, such as your arms, legs and torso. Wash your hands with soap and water after each section to avoid discoloring your palms. Lightly extend the product from your ankles to your feet and from your wrists to your hands.
  • Wipe joint areas. The knees, elbows and ankles tend to absorb more of sunless tanning products. To dilute the tanning effect in these areas, gently rub them with a damp towel.
  • Take time to dry. Wait to dress at least 10 minutes. Wear loose clothing and avoid sweating for three hours.

Targeted vitamin D testing recommended in Australasia.

Vitamin D testing should not be done by routine screening but should be used only in people with clear signs of deficiency, or who are at risk for deficiency, for whom treatment is likely to be of benefit, according to a position statement from the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia.

The statement recommends that vitamin D should be measured as 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OH-D) and argues that an assay that measures only 25OH-D3 is sufficient for use in Australia and New Zealand. Patients should be monitored by the same laboratory after treatment because vitamin D assays vary.

After reviewing available scientific literature, a working party from the College advised against routine screening for vitamin D deficiency in adults (including pregnant women), healthy infants, and children. “As the main source of vitamin D is UVB sunlight exposure, vitamin D levels are correlated with time spent outdoors, exercise, and other aspects of a healthy lifestyle including bodyweight”, says Professor Yee Khong, President of the College.

The working group believes that testing healthy individuals would identify a substantial subgroup of patients with low 25OH-D concentrations, who would then be given treatment and repeat testing, without evidence that they would benefit from vitamin D supplementation. Khong warns, “The quality of evidence for health benefits of an adequate vitamin D status is highly variable and trials to improve this evidence are underway”.

William Fraser (University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK), believes that the statement is useful, but he cautions that it is based on the situation in Australia and New Zealand. “Some of the broad statements made would not be applicable in other countries throughout the world. The recent guideline published by the National Osteoporosis Society is much more applicable in the UK and other countries where vitamin D2 is present in the food chain, is freely available as a supplement, or is used as a prescribed medication.”

The Australasian group suggests that the target concentration for serum 25OH-D should be greater than 50 nmol/L at the end of winter. Serum 25OH-D concentrations should be retested no earlier than 3 months after commencement of supplementation with vitamin D. Once a desirable target has been achieved, no further testing is needed unless risk factors change.

Fraser questions the recommendation to measure only 25OH-D3 when the statement notes that D2 supplementation could be being used by some individuals tested. “It is a relatively short time since Australia moved from prescribing D2supplementation to D3 supplementation, and I am left wondering if D2 is totally absent from the food and supplement chain.”

Source: Lancet

Vemurafenib and Radiosensitization.

Importance  The BRAF inhibitor, vemurafenib, was recently approved for the treatment of patients with BRAFV600 metastatic melanoma. Wider use of this drug and longer follow-up periods of treatment are resulting in the emergence of a growing number of reports detailing new adverse effects. Cutaneous adverse effects are preeminent with UV-A–dependent phototoxicity, hyperkeratotic folliculitis, hand-foot skin reaction, hair changes, verrucous papillomas, keratoacanthomas, and squamous cell carcinomas.

Observations  We report 2 cases of dermatitis occurring on a previously irradiated skin area in patients treated with vemurafenib for a BRAFV600-mutated metastatic melanoma. The first case occurred 10 days after a low dose of radiation was delivered that usually does not induce any radiodermatitis, suggesting radiosensitization by vemurafenib. The second case occurred 30 days after radiotherapy and was diagnosed as radiation recall dermatitis.

Conclusions and Relevance  Vemurafenib should be considered a potential cutaneous radiosensitizer and an inducer of radiation recall dermatitis. However, these adverse effects are easily managed with topical corticosteroids. Dose reduction or interruption of vemurafenib is not required. Further studies and reports will enlighten us as to whether this pharmacodynamic interaction between x-rays and vemurafenib is also seen with other BRAF or MEK inhibitors on the same mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway currently under development.

Source: JAMA


Atomic Toolbox: Manufacturing at the Nanoscale .





Scientists are building the next generation of atomic-scale devices

For decades industrial manufacturing has meant long assembly lines. This is how scores of workers—human or robot—have built really big things, such as automobiles and aircraft, or have brought to life smaller, more complex items, such as pharmaceuticals, computers and smartphones.

Now envision a future in which the assembly of digital processors and memory, energy generators, artificial tissue and medical devices takes place on a scale too small to be seen by the naked eye and under a new set of rules. The next few years begin an important era that will take us from manufactured products that simply containnanotechnology—sunscreen with UV-blocking bits of titanium dioxide, as well as particles for enhancing medical imaging, to name two—to products that arenanotechnology.

Source: scientific American






Ozone Exposure Linked to Thousands of Premature Deaths Annually,

An international team of scientists has used world-leading neutron sources at the Institute Laue-Langevin in Grenoble, France, and at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK, to explain how ozone causes severe respiratory problems and thousands of cases of premature death each year by attacking the fatty lining of our lungs.

In a study, published in the journal Langmuir, the team observed how even a relatively low dose of ozone attacks lipid molecules that line the lung’s surface. The presence of the lipid molecules is crucial for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, as they prevent the wet surfaces of the lung from collapsing.

Ozone is mostly produced in the upper atmosphere as the Sun’s UV light splits oxygen molecules, but it can also form at ground level from burning fossil fuels. It is known to harm our respiratory systems and is linked to asthma, bronchitis, heart attacks, and other cardiopulmonary problems.

A recent study found that stricter ozone emission regulations in the U.S. could prevent over a thousand premature deaths and over a million complaints of respiratory problems each year. However, it remains unclear how exactly ozone causes this damage. One theory is it attacks the lung’s surface layers which consist of a layer of water sitting below a mixture of fatty molecules called lipids and proteins that are together known as lung surfactant. The surfactant aids the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide during breathing. It does this by reducing surface tension, i.e. the attraction that molecules feel for each other, in the liquid surface layer above, causing these fluids to spread out and provide a greater surface area for gas exchange.

Critically, a lack of adequate surfactant, a deficiency often found naturally in babies born prematurely, can produce similar respiratory health complaints to those mentioned above, even resulting in death in some cases. This link was further established in 2011 by scientists who demonstrated that ozone reacted very strongly with the lipid layer, damaging it. However, what exactly is going on and how these reactions might impede the surfactant from doing its job was still unclear.

To investigate further, the team ran neutron reflection studies on an artificial lipid monolayer, created to mimic the lung surface. The lipid layer was exposed to a dilute gaseous mixture of ozone, and changes in its structure or surface tension were studied in real time. The concentration of ozone was around 100 parts per billion, equivalent to what you might get in a polluted city in the summer.

The use of neutrons meant that the scientists could label different parts of the sample using deuteration, a process whereby a heavier isotope of hydrogen, deuterium, is introduced and contrasted with undeuterated samples to pick out the location of hydrogen atoms. This allowed them to monitor different parts of the molecule separately as they reacted with the ozone.

Neutrons are an ideal tool for studying biological materials, particularly their reactions and interactions on surfaces and across interfaces. They are highly sensitive to lighter atoms such as carbon, hydrogen and oxygen that make up these organic molecules and isotopic labeling can be used to determine the structure and composition of interfacial layers,” explained study co-author Dr Richard Campbell from the Institute Laue-Langevin.

Using this technique, the team showed that one of the lipid’s upwards-facing tails, known as the C9 portion, breaks off during the ozone degradation and is lost from the surface completely. The portion still attached to the lipid head then re-orientates itself and penetrates into the air-water interface. The loss of the C9 portion causes an initial decrease in surface tension which temporarily increases surface area for gas exchange and efficient respiration. However this effect is short-lived as the penetration of the rest of the molecule into the water results in a slow but pronounced rise in surface tension, producing an overall net increase.

“We are not completely sure what causes the second stage of tension increase. The damaged lipid might be slowly dissolving in the water and leaving the interface entirely, or a slow reaction might be occurring that is damaging another part of the lipid not directly attacked by ozone. What we can say is that the slow increase in surface tension that occurs as a result of the ozone exposure would certainly damage the ability of our lungs to process oxygen and carbon dioxide, and could account for the respiratory problems associated with ozone poisoning,” said first author Dr Katherine Thompson of the University of London.

The next step for the team is to look at adapting the model, to represent the condition of people with various forms of chronic respiratory problem and attempt to understand why ozone seems to affect them worse than others.

Source: /


Hippo’s ‘magic’ sweat explained.



The really clever thing about hippos is that they produce their own sunscreen, in the form of a sticky reddish sweat.

Now, a team from Kyoto Pharmaceutical University, Japan, has explained the chemistry of this special substance

It has told Nature magazine the oily secretion is made up of two unstable pigments – one red, the other orange.

The red pigment also has antibacterial properties, which work to protect the hippo from certain pathogens and accelerate its recovery from wounds.

River horse

The hippopotamus – or “river horse” – is a belligerent creature, which puzzled the ancient Greeks by apparently sweating blood.

In fact, the thick red substance, which oozes from glands all over its skin, is one of the hippo’s many ingenious survival tools.

The enormous relative of the pig occupies a unique amphibious niche – which requires some specialised equipment.

Hippos consume as much vegetation as they can during the night, when they are shielded from the searing heat and sun. At dawn, they retire into water and spend their days resting, squabbling and, most importantly, digesting.

“Hippos are basically fermentation vats,” Wayne Boardman, head of veterinary services at the Zoological Society of London, UK, told BBC News Online. “They are adapted to eating poor quality food stuffs, but to be able to get nutrition out of these, they need to be able to eat for long periods of time.”

Because it is so important for hippos to eat a vast amount, they must venture out in the sun from time to time, to top up on their nightly binge.

But a traditional sunscreen – like fur – is not practical if you spend half your time submerged in water.

Evolution’s answer

The answer that evolution came up with was an anti-UV secretion, which is at first colourless, then red, then finally brown as the pigment polymerizes.

“The sunscreen property of the sweat was first suspected because albino hippos are often observed – and they seem healthy,” Kyoto’s Kimiko Hashimoto told BBC News Online.

This natural skin-care product not only protects the hippo from the sun, it also regulates temperature and discourages the growth of bacteria.

Professor Hashimoto and his colleagues collected samples of the hippo’s sweat and examined it, to see what makes it so special.

They found it is made up of two pigments – one red, called “hipposudoric acid”; and the other orange, called “norhipposudoric acid”.

The scientists believe these two substances are produced from a metabolite of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins).

Both pigments act as sun blocks and the red one, they discovered, is a particularly good antibiotic.

At concentrations lower than that found on the hippo’s skin, it can inhibit the growth of two types of pathogenic bacteria. This is useful for hippos, because they are terrible fighters.

“Hippos are always fighting,” said Mr Boardman. “You see them in the wild and they have wounds all over them.”

Perhaps it is no wonder, then, that evolution endowed them with a handy antiseptic.

Mr Boardman added: “They get scratches and bites and cuts and yet they don’t seem to get infections.”



Size: 1.3m shoulder height

Mass: 1600-3200kg

Lifespan: 45 years

Diet: Herbivorous

Predators: Crocodiles and lions



Source: BBC

More Evidence for Increased Skin Cancer Risk with Indoor Tanning.

Exposure to ultraviolet radiation through indoor tanning devices is associated with increased risk for nonmelanoma skin cancer, according to a meta-analysis in BMJ.

The analysis included 12 studies (mostly case-control) comprising over 80,000 participants and 9300 cases of basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. Overall, individuals who’d ever used an indoor tanning device were about 25% more likely to have basal cell disease and nearly 70% more likely to have squamous cell disease, relative to unexposed participants. Risk for basal cell carcinoma was even higher among those with higher levels of exposure, as well as those exposed before age 25.

The authors calculate that in the U.S., more than 170,000 cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer each year can be attributed to indoor tanning.

Editorialists emphasize the role of healthcare providers in warning patients, especially young patients, about the risks of indoor tanning.