Avoiding Sunshine is Dicing with Death

Vitamin D deficiency is the Killer in our Midst

We all know that sunshine causes skin cancer. Even little kids know that. Raising questions about it is likely to cause much rolling of eyes and shaking of heads. EVERYBODY KNOWS, as Leonard Cohen’s song goes. Sun exposure causes skin cancer, including deadly melanomas, end of story. SLIP SLOP SLAP. It’s a lot like FAT MAKES YOU FAT: Bumper sticker science.

So what do we make of this? The highest rates of melanoma are recorded in these cold states of the USA: Delaware, Vermont, New Hampshire, Wyoming, Oregon, Montana, Iowa, Utah, Washington and Maine. The US states that get the most sunshine are Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Hawaii, California, and Florida.

It’s the same story in Europe, where the Scandinavian countries get the least sunshine yet have the highest rates of malignant melanoma. The map shows the incidence of melanoma in men in 2012, figures are per 100,000.


‘Vitamin D and Melanoma: What Do We Tell Our Patients?’

This heading of an article in the Journal of Clinical Oncology gives us a hint of the massive grey area that exists here. The conundrum is this: A number of studies have found that people ‘with low vitamin D levels might be at higher risk of developing cancer, having cancer progress, or dying of cancer including melanoma.’

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What if Everything they told us about Alzheimer’s was Wrong?

Two decades of research have failed to shine any light on the darkness that is Alzheimer’s Disease, yet the answer is staring us in the face

Alzheimer’s Disease accounts for two thirds of dementia cases. AD is not reversible, and its progress is unrelenting; it’s a long, lonesome road with a dead end. We don’t know what causes it, we don’t know how to fight it, and there’s no cure. Alzheimer’s Disease is always fatal, so the experts tell us. The good news is that they’re wrong.

dementia_vs_mental_illnessImage Source: Symphony Senior Living

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Killing Us Softly – How Expert Health Advice has Made Us a Sick Lot

‘In the course of my life, I have often had to eat my words, and I must confess that I have always found it a wholesome diet.’ Winston Churchill

The Blue Zones make a great story, don’t they? People living full and healthy lives, and going to the next world with most of their marbles and their dignity intact. So why is it that people in the richest countries in the world, those with the most advanced healthcare systems, don’t fare nearly so well?

And why is it that, despite medical experts and government health agencies giving us mountains of advice on how to live healthy lives, the rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, dementia and obesity have risen to epidemic proportions?


Looking back over the last fifty years, we have to ask why so much of that advice was so wrong. Cynics among you could be forgiven for thinking that doctors were making us sick so they’d never run out of work. The truth is a bit more complicated.

Where are we Now?

After decades of expert advice from our health agencies on healthy living, and billions of dollars spent on promoting that advice, these are the results:

  • 1985 – 40% of Australians overweight, 10% obese
  • 2015 – 70% overweight and 30% obese
  • 1985 – <1% of Australians live with type 2 diabetes
  • 2015 – >5% of Australians live with type 2 diabetes, 16.3% pre-diabetic
  • 1985 – 2015 – the number of new cancer cases diagnosed every year rose from 47,417 to 123,920. 5-year survival from all cancers increased from 46% to 67%.

In other words, cancer incidence more than doubled, while cancer treatment outcomes improved by just 45%.

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Red Wine – Fountain of Youth?

If you Love Wine, this is the Best News in Years

We are all mortal until the first kiss and the second glass of wine. Eduardo Galeano

Plastic Surgeon Richard Baxter’s book ‘Age is Better with Wine’ tells the story of Jeanne Calment who died in her sleep in Arles in the south of France in 1997, at close to 123 years of age.

‘Her birth predated the telephone,’ writes Baxter, ‘and her death was announced via the internet.’ As a young woman she sold art supplies to van Gogh and other impressionists who came to the Provence to catch the light. When she reached the age of 90, she made an agreement with her lawyer to subsidise her stay in her apartment until her death when it would pass to him. He died years before her, and his heirs had to continue paying the rent.

Apparently Calment followed a Mediterranean diet, loved rich foods, chocolate and red wine (not at the same time perhaps). A few years after her death, researchers discovered resveratrol, a compound that Baxter calls the most potent antioxidant of all. The best source, as luck would have it, is red wine because the process of making it extracts large amounts of resveratrol from the grape skins.

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Blue Zones — Living to 100 in Good Health

From Okinawa to Loma Linda — what’s their secret?

‘Health is the state about which medicine has nothing to say.’ W. H. Auden

Shangri La

The literature is full of adventurers who searched for places on this earth where time stood still. In the 1933 novel Lost Horizon, British author James Hilton describes a place called Shangri-La in a mystical valley enclosed in the western end of the Kunlun Mountains between China and Tibet. Shangri-La soon became a byword for a secluded, idyllic place where people lived far beyond the average human lifespan.

Modern civilisation has brought us many fancy things and astounding advances in medicine, yet it’s brought us much misery too. So the dream of a mythical place where people live to 100 years or more in good health is more than appealing to those of us who want to avoid the chronic ills of civilisation.

The Secret to a Long Life

Wind the tape forward to the new millennium, and we find American journalist Dan Buettner and a couple of European demographers looking for places in the world that come close to the dream of Shangri-La. They found 5 places where people live longer, healthier and happier lives than people elsewhere:

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