Black People, White People, the Sun

So once again we have found that black people have been discriminated against because of their skin tone.  It has been known since we started keeping statistics on disease and skin color that people with dark skin have more chronic disease and shorter life expectancy.  I have asked black people why they thought this was and the response was because they believe the stress of discrimination and an overall lower standard of living because of their suppression which lead to reduced medical care.  When I have asked white people what they thought I would get the response that black people just did not take care of themselves.  It seems that none of us are free of bigotry.  Neither answer is even close to correct.

The true reason for much higher disease states is the physical fact that skin color has evolved over time so that we can more easily live with the amount of sun that we would typically get at that latitude.  You can see what this looks like from the skin color map of indigenous people.

As you move away from the equator skin color of indigenous people gets lighter so that they can make an adequate amount of vitamin D.  As you go toward the equator, the skin tone gets darker to protect the skin from the damage of UV.  It then follows that if you have light skin and move closer to the equator that you take a higher risk of skin damage from the sun.  If you have dark skin and move further away from the equator you take the risk of not making enough vitamin D for a healthy long life.

So let’s take melanoma for an example.  Should we expect to find the melanoma rate higher at the equator or at the higher latitudes?  If it was totally from exposure to the sun then you would expect to find higher rates along the equator.  With our very mobile world people with light skin at the equator would have an extremely difficult time with this disease.  However, this was not the case with the data from Edward Gorham, PhD et al in the presentation Skin Cancer\Sunscreen – the Dilemma.   What we see on page five is that as you go away from the equator melanoma gets worse.  So what is going on?  What is even more of a dilemma is that we see that the rates for Argentina are much lower than they are for Australia even though we found that the skin color of the indigenous people were about the same at the same latitude.  Could it be that the cause of a higher melanoma rate is because of an intense program for sunscreen use in Australia?  It is complex and complicated because you also have to consider ozone.  Watch the video: Skin Cancer/Sunscreen, the Dilemma.

It seems that as skin tone gets darker that it takes more time in the sun or a more intense sun for the body to produce the same amount of vitamin D.   For example a person with a light skin tone may take only 15 minutes to produce 10,000 IU of D3 and a person with dark skin at the same latitude and sun intensity it could take 3 to 10 times longer to produce the same 10,000 IU of D3.

With this being the case and low supplementation then it stands to reason that lower vitamin D levels will lead to more disease.  Low levels of vitamin D have been correlated with the ‘big three’ killer chronic diseases: diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.  Dark skin people have a higher incidence of chronic disease.

Our response to this understanding as a society has been alarmingly slow because of our bigotry.  Consider this article Racial Opportunities – about race from Dr. John Cannell at the Vitamin D Council and this civil rights complaint that was filed with the DOJ against the FDA and was refused to be heard by the NIH in 2005.  What are we to think?

In 2005 and 2006 I went to see my local congressman and wrote to the NAACP twice to try to get some help in having the complaint heard.  My congressman told me that there was nothing that he could do about it and the NAACP did not respond to either of my letters.

The research on chronic disease and skin color is being published at an every increasing rate.  Consider this paper just published earlier June.

Differences in Vitamin D Levels Likely Explain Ethnic Differences in Incidence of Congestive Heart Failure

William B. Grant, PhD ; Archives of Internal Medicine Vol. 169, No. 11, June 9, 2009

Let’s get healthier, give up the agendas, and embrace the light.

Boundaries improperly defined
As shackles bind us in a darkness
That can only be compared to slavery     – Pandemic Survivor