Week 66: iron deficiency, the benefits of sun tanning and anyone knows a geneticist?

Written by Lars Haakon Soraas

Week 66 in the war on cancer has passed. Before we get to the highlights: I am looking for someone who is good with genes (DNA and stuff) to help out on a small project. Do you know anyone? If so, please reach out to me ().

Here are this week’s highlights:

  • Dyanne was supposed to go to Germany this week, but the trip was cancelled due to a strike in Lufthansa. We discussed with the team in Frankfurt and concluded that skipping this one injection should not be any major problem.
  • The low hemoglobin level that was found on a recent blood test triggered a test to check for the iron level (ferritin). It turns out Dyanne is way below the minimum level. So iron supplements will be taken going forward. It is quite likely that the iron deficiency has contributed to Dyanne feeling tired lately.
  • Dyanne has started as a teaching assistant at a school here in Oslo. She will help out in a class three days a week.

New research was published last month about the benefits and risks of sun exposure. The main conclusion is that sun exposure has a range of benefits, and that these generally outweght any risks associated with being in the sun. Here is from the abstract of the study:

“This review of recent studies and their analyses consider the risks and benefits of sun exposure which indicate that insufficient sun exposure is an emerging public health problem. This review considers the studies that have shown a wide range health benefits from sun/UV exposure. These benefits include among others various types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer disease/dementia, myopia and macular degeneration, diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

Yes, getting sun burned may increase the risk of certain skin cancers. However, the benefits of sun exposure are plentyful and far outweight any risks. Importantly, the lead author, Dr David Hoel, points out that current official recommendations on sun exposure need to be updated:

“The message of sun avoidance advocated by our government, and some within the medical community, should be changed immediately to a recommendation of regular non-burning sun exposure for most Americans.”

The current advice, which is basically: be very careful with sun tanning, is basically flawed and not based on the latest science. Recommending people to avoid the sun in order to avoid getting melanoma, is a bit like warning people not to exercise because they may break a leg. Yes, exercise probably increases the risk of leg breaking, but the health benefits of exercise far outweigh the risk of breaking a leg.

Outdated, and non-evidence-based, recommendations for sun tanning are here in Norway made by the following:

I have emailed all three and hope they will update their recommendations so their advice will be more in line with the latest scientific evidence.

So, enjoy the sun and consider going to a tanning studio in the winter season here in the North.


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