Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Playing in the sun ‘reduces risk of eczema and food allergies in children’ (?)

This sounds plausible at first sight but I have some reservations. Is it true that Southern Australia gets less sun? They certainly get less sun in winter but make up with longer days in summer. In the warm North summer and winter days are more even.

Though it is true that sunlight is more direct and hence less filtered by the atmosphere in the tropics. And about a third of Australia is tropical. There are no large cities in the tropics, however.

The writers have absolutely no proof that vitamin D is the intervening factor. It's just their theory. A much more obvious North/South difference than insolation is warmth. The North is undoubtedly much warmer, whether or not it has more sunny days. I would think that a theory linking greater warmth to less autoimmune disease should not be too hard to devise. People do after all often move to warmer climates for the sake of their health generally. The exodus from NYC to Boca Raton is a case in point.

Playing in the sunshine reduces the risk of children developing eczema and food allergies, researchers claim. Those living in areas with lower levels of sunlight are at greater risk of developing food allergies and the skin condition, compared to those in areas with higher UV.

Scientists used data from analysis of Australian children and how rates of food allergies, eczema and asthma varied throughout the country.

On average children in the south of the country were twice as likely to develop eczema as those in the north. There was also a link between latitude and allergies to peanuts and eggs.

Sunlight is important because it provides the fuel to create vitamin D in the skin.

Australia is a particularly good place for this type of study as it spans nearly 3,000 miles from north to south, with a large variation in climate, day length and sun strength.

Dr Nick Osborne, who led the researchers at the European Centre for Environment and Human Health, a joint initiative between Plymouth and Exeter universities, warned: 'This investigation has further underlined the association between food allergies, eczema and where you live.

'We’re now hoping to study these effects at a much finer scale and examine which factors such as temperature, infectious disease or vitamin D are the main drivers of this relationship. 'As always, care has to be taken we are not exposed to too much sunlight, increasing the risk of skin cancer.'


Two glasses of wine a night triples risk of mouth cancer, Government warns

Another rotation of the merrygoround! Wine is both good and bad for you, apparently. No science is cited below so I have my doubts about this latest pronunciamento. Mediterranean people drink a lot of wine and they are usually held up as a good diet example. Do they have runaway rates of oral cancer? I think we would have heard of it if they do

Drinking two large glasses of wine a day triples the risk of developing mouth cancer, a government campaign will warn. Television adverts which start running on Sunday evening will say that drinking "just a little bit more" than recommended daily limits for alcohol increases the risk of serious health problems.

Government advice states that men should drink no more than four units a day and women should have no more than three. A large 250ml glass of wine is classed as three units, as is a pint of continental lager.

The adverts will say that those who regularly drink six units in a day double their chance of high blood pressure and triple the risk of developing mouth cancer.

Mouth cancer is diagnosed in more than 5,000 people a year, leading to about 1,800 deaths, while about 12 million people have high blood pressure, increasing their chances of strokes and heart attacks.

The adverts, run under the Change4Life banner, will encourage drinkers to cut down by having alcohol-free days, not drinking at home before going out, swapping to low or alcohol-free drinks and using smaller glasses.

Mouth cancer, also known as oral cancer, is uncommon, but cases have risen by 20 per cent in the past three decades. It affects twice as many men as women.

High blood pressure is far more common, with about 12 million sufferers in the UK, about 7 million of whom are diagnosed.

Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, said the campaign was being launched "to alert people that it is not just binge drinkers who damage their health".

David Cameron has recently indicated that he might back a minimum alcohol price in England to deter excess consumption, overruling the advice of Mr Lansley, who believes the move would have little impact.


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