Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dangerous nonsense: Vitamin 'better than sunscreen'

Don't give up your sunscreen yet. Vitamin B3 has been around for ages and people do normally get it in their food. But lots of people still get skin cancer

A vitamin found in meats, nuts, grains and cereals might be more effective than sunscreen in preventing skin cancer, new research has found. Nicotinamide, or vitamin B3, prevents damage from both UVA and UVB radiation by protecting the immune system, and could be taken in tablet form or added to sunscreen, Associate Professor Diona Damian of the University of Sydney says.

Sunscreens provide good protection against UVB rays, which cause sunburn and skin cancer, but the products are less effective in protecting against UVA, which can also cause skin cancer. "UV radiation in sunlight suppresses the skin's immune system and makes it more susceptible to skin cancer," she said. "Our research found that nicotinamide [vitamin B3] can prevent the immunosuppressive effects of UV by energising cells so they maintain their immunity."

Tests using the water-soluble vitamin offered equally strong protection against both UVA and UVB in both lotion and tablet form, according to tests on volunteers, Professor Damian said. "Nicotinamide is well tolerated, so could also be taken orally as a supplement, particularly by people who have a higher susceptibility to skin cancer," she said. It is also relatively cheap to produce so it could potentially be incorporated into sunscreen to boost its effectiveness against UVA, she added.

The research was also looking to determine whether the vitamin could be used to treat sunspots, common lesions that sometimes progress to skin cancer.


Britain: Alternative medicine professions 'need statutory regulation'

If regular medicine does, the freaky stuff sure does. Some herbal products, for instance, are among the most toxic substances known -- e.g. ricin

Acupuncturists, Chinese medicine practitioners and medical herbalists should be formally regulated to ensure they are "fit to practise", the Health Professions Council (HPC) told the Government today. The professions are not currently subject to statutory regulation but the HPC formally recommended a system was introduced to make it easier to ensure people were "meeting standards".

HPC chief executive Marc Seale said: "The HPC has made a recommendation to the Secretary of State for Health advocating the regulation of acupuncturists, medical herbalists and traditional Chinese medicine practitioners. "The HPC was set up in order to protect the public and we strongly believe that statutory regulation can more effectively assure that practitioners are meeting standards and are fit to practise."

A Department of Health steering group report in June said regulation was "in the public interest". It said it was important people had confidence that practitioners from these fields were "properly trained, understand the limits of their competence and know when and to whom to refer". The report added: "There has also been widespread concern about the safety, in particular, of traditional Chinese medicines when inappropriately administered."

The HPC already regulates 13 health professions, including chiropodists and podiatrists, dieticians, paramedics, physiotherapists, radiographers and speech therapists. Each profession has a professional title which can only be used by those who meet the requirements to join the HPC's register. Using the title without being on the register is a criminal offence.

The steering group said the HPC had already demonstrated effective, safe and cost-effective statutory regulation and it was "convinced" this could be extended to cover practitioners of acupuncture, herbal medicine, traditional Chinese medicine and other traditional-medicine systems practised within the UK.

However it recognised the workload associated with regulating acupuncture, herbal medicine and traditional Chinese medicine might be greater than that previously experienced in regulating well-established health professional sectors.

The HPC said earlier this year it would welcome the opportunity to regulate the professions although the final decision about regulation and how it was achieved rested with the Government.


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