Sunscreens, advertising, cures, and more…

FSM Friends’ News and Articles

Ad-Conned: A critical look at CASPer: “Admissions committees are being sold the idea of an objective tool that will increase the fairness of the admissions process – not the reality. There is nothing objective or fair about a computerized test that uses human graders for open-ended responses, doesn’t outline how responses are evaluated, and doesn’t provide feedback.”


The effect of sunscreen on vitamin D – a review: A review finds that in real world field trials, use of sunscreen DID NOT block vitamin D production in the skin. For a long time fears have been raised that sunscreen use could lead to vitamin D deficiency, and some experiments lent plausibility to this idea, leading to debates about the risk/benefit ratio in using sunscreen to prevent skin cancer. This is a particularly popular line among proponents of a ‘natural’ lifestyles and therapies. However reduction in vitamin D production due to sunscreen has not been observed in real world studies, particularly not in randomised control trials. Interestingly, experiments suggesting that sunscreen had the potential to block vitamin D production actually used artificially generated ultraviolet radiation with a spectral output unlike that seen in terrestrial sunlight. Thus concerns about vitamin D should not be allowed to negate skin cancer prevention advice or to negatively impact sun safe messaging. Note that more testing is required for high SPF sunscreens. But this still means that the best evidence is that sunscreens do not negatively impact vitamin D production.

Today’s Abused Health Concept

Unethical promotion for supplements. Fears of ‘borderline unethical’ advertising after 75% of older Australians found to be taking supplements: Almost 75% of older Australians are taking dietary or complementary supplements, mostly without a medical indication, and without evidence of effectiveness. “The promoting of these things to people who are getting no benefit from it but are paying for it and are maybe not getting an effective treatment that they would otherwise get, is borderline unethical. There are a small percentage of people where these things will benefit. For people with osteoporosis taking vitamin D and calcium would be an appropriate thing to do but we are talking about a small percentage of 1-2%, not 33%.”  Yet supplement providers market their wares strongly on the basis of the benefit they are assumed to provided. This flirts with the boundaries of unethical behaviour, often exploiting loopholes in the enforcement of standards in order to sell more product. Dr Ken Harvey, who resigned from the TGA in November over what he saw as the “ineffectual and token enforcement” of complementary medicine violations, said people over the age of 70 were consuming so many “unnecessary, expensive and potentially dangerous supplements” because the TGA has “failed their regulatory responsibilities”.

Great Moments in Health and Science

Inventor of Hepatitis C cure receives prestigious prize: Advancements in treatment for Hepatitis C virus infection have resulted in this highly effective cure, with reduced side effects and increased efficacy over previous treatments.