According to Avi Loeb, a Harvard scientist, humanity will destroy itself long before the sun will have the opportunity to do so. Humans should be less concerned about what the sun will do and more concerned about the damage we are doing to ourselves.
Loeb warns that humanity will likely bring about its own demise “as a result of self-inflicted wounds long before the sun will pose its predictable threat.” Scientists say that in billions of years, the sun will incinerate our oceans leaving a desolate and dead planet devoid of life. But we are doing enough damage to ourselves, that humanity won’t even make it long enough to witness such an event.
As the star runs out of hydrogen and helium atoms to burn in its core, it glows brighter and brighter. Eventually, the sun will bombard Earth with enough high-energy light to incinerate the world’s oceans, melt the polar ice caps, and strip our atmosphere of all moisture — effectively killing all life. –Business Insider
“I am inclined to believe that our civilization will disappear as a result of self-inflicted wounds long before the sun will pose its predictable threat,” Loeb wrote. “Why do I believe that? Because the dead silence we hear so far from the numerous habitable exoplanets we’ve discovered may indicate that advanced civilizations have much shorter lives than their host stars.”
But is there a solution to humanity’s demise? A BBC reporter recently posed that very question to Loeb, an astronomer. In a recent Scientific American blog post, Loeb stated how imperative it is for our species to relocate to other parts of the universe that are less close to our sun’s vacillating brightness.
The astronomer doesn’t want us to remain shackled to existing planets and moons, either. He said it’d be best if humanity could “manufacture a gigantic structure that will be able [to maneuver] the optimal orbital distance at any given time” from the sun’s deadly energy. Once we successfully colonize both nearby and interstellar space, Loeb added, we can make genetically identical copies of ourselves and “the flora and fauna we hold dear” to seed other planets with life.
However, Loeb is not optimistic that this will happen. Humanity is on track to wipe itself out before the sun can pose a real threat. Obviously, the astronomer’s solution is one that will have to happen in the future and therefore, won’t do much for preserving people alive on Earth today. But to Loeb, it is more important to ensure the longevity of our species as a whole rather than protecting “our own skin.”
There is a lot of conflicting advice out there about vitamin use, and the insistence by a few vocal “experts” that multivitamins are a waste of money has led many people to falsely believe that not getting enough vitamins is not such a big deal. However, when it comes to vitamin D, maintaining optimal levels could mean the difference between developing cancer or not.
Our bodies need vitamin D to maintain proper calcium levels for bone health, along with muscle functioning and neuronal communication. It is also needed to help our immune system function properly.
Scientists have known for many years that higher serum levels of vitamin D are associated with a significantly lower incidence of breast, pancreatic, colon, renal, aggressive prostate, ovarian, and other cancers, and studies continue to show how useful it can be in this regard.
A study published in the Annals of Epidemiology concluded that raising the minimum serum levels of vitamin D to 40 to 60 ng/mL could prevent as many as 58,000 new breast cancer cases and 49,000 new colorectal cancer cases in the U.S. and Canada each year, in addition to preventing three fourths of the deaths caused by these cancers. They also say such an intake could decrease the case-fatality rates of those with prostate, breast and colorectal cancer by half.
The study’s authors emphasize that there aren’t any “unreasonable risks” from taking as much as 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day or achieving the levels recommended, and they called for a national effort to raise people’s intake of vitamin D as well as calcium.
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In another study that involved more than 33,000 Japanese participants aged 40 to 69 and a follow-up period of 16 years on average, researchers discovered that the participants with the higher vitamin D levels enjoyed a 20 percent lower risk of all types of cancer when compared to those who recorded the lowest levels of vitamin D. The finding held true even after accounting for factors like body mass index, smoking and alcohol intake, physical activity, and age. In particular, they found an association between higher vitamin D levels and a 30 to 50 percent reduced risk of liver cancer, and the effect was particularly pronounced in men.
Driving the point home is a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that found higher levels of serum vitamin D was associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer. This finding was based on data from 17 prospective studies involving more than 12,000 people. The researchers found that those who had a vitamin D deficiency were 31 percent more likely to develop colorectal cancer than those who had vitamin D levels that were higher than recommended.
Getting enough vitamin D is easier than you think
Given vitamin D’s ability to prevent cancer, should you run out and buy supplements right away? The truth is that many people can get all the vitamin D they need simply by heading outdoors while the sun is shining with some of their skin exposed – and without sunscreen. Lots of factors influence how long it takes, including your skin tone and location, but online calculators can help give you a rough idea of what is right for you.
If this isn’t an option for you for some reason, supplements may indeed prove useful as it can be very difficult to get the amount you need from food alone. While you can find vitamin D in fatty fish like tuna, salmon, and trout, as well as mushrooms and eggs, you’d need to eat a lot of these foods to reach the levels mentioned in the study. Keep in mind, however, that experts advise against getting too much vitamin D. Blood tests can help guide your decision.
Professor of Genetic Epidemiology, King’s College London
We are still in love with vitamins a century after they were discovered, with half the US and UK population taking a supplement. Vitamin D – the sunshine vitamin – is the favourite and is believed to have the most proven benefits. Governments, including the UK government, have said that the evidence for vitamin D’s health benefits is so overwhelming that every adult should take it as a supplement for at least six months of the year.
It was first used to cure rickets in Victorian children living in urban poverty and is now routinely given to prevent and treat brittle bone disease (osteoporosis) and fractures. It has been associated with a reduced risk of over a hundred common diseases in observational studies, ranging from depression to cancer.
The largest ever clinical study on the benefits of vitamin D in preventing fractures is now reported in the BMJ, with over 500,000 people and around 188,000 fractures from 23 cohorts from many countries. As vitamin D levels are strongly influenced by genes, the researchers used genetic markers for vitamin D blood levels (called Mendelian randomisation or MR) to avoid the normal biases of observational studies, such as confusing cause and consequence of disease and the effects of other related health behaviours (so-called “confounders”).
The results showed no association between vitamin D levels over a lifetime and the risk of fracture. This latest study contradicts the UK government’s recent view, but not a host of earlier clinical trials.
In 2014, a review and meta-analysis of 31 vitamin D supplement trials found no effect on all fractures. Much of our strong belief in the benefits of vitamin D came from studies of supplements in care homes in the 1980s, which were never replicated and were probably flawed.
In a more recent meta-analysis of 33 randomised trials of over 50,000 older adults, supplementation with calcium or vitamin D had no effect on the incidence of fractures. There were also no clear benefits on muscle strength or mobility.
So, if all the data points to vitamin D failing to prevent fractures, why worry about all the people with low blood levels of the vitamin? Vitamin D deficiency has become a modern epidemic with a fifth of the UK and US populations reported to have low levels. Will they be more susceptible to other diseases and cancer?
No consensus on deficiency
There is little agreement on what vitamin D deficiency is. Deficiency levels are arbitrary with no international consensus and confusion caused by different units in the US. A “normal” level can vary from 50 to 80 nanomole per litre of blood, but recent studies suggest 30nmol is quite enough.
While clinical deficiency (<10nmol) is often clear cut, wrongly labelling millions of people as vitamin D deficient causes stress and over-medicalisation. Most people assume calcium and vitamin D are safe, and the more you take the better. My clinical practice changed when studies showed calcium supplements, as well as being ineffective against fractures, may cause heart disease. Prescriptions are now dropping.
Vitamin D is fat soluble, so high levels can build up in the body. While recommendations for supplements are usually with modest doses (10 micrograms or 400 international units (IU)), these will inevitably be overdone by some people taking other sources in cod liver oil tablets or in fortified milk, orange juice or bread. More worrying, people increasingly buy high-dose supplements of 4,000-20,000IU on the internet.
Patients with very high vitamin D blood levels (over 100nmol) are becoming routine in my clinic and elsewhere, and toxic overdoses are increasingly being reported. Several randomised trials have shown that patients with high blood levels or taking large doses of vitamin D (above 800IU) had an unexpected increased risk of falls and fractures. Vitamin D is far from safe.
It can no longer be recommended for use in other conditions; the vast majority of the positive published studies in 137 diseases were reviewed as spurious. It was widely believed that vitamin D supplements prevented cardiovascular disease, but meta-analyses and large-scale genetic MR studies have ruled this out.
We have created another pseudo-disease that is encouraged by vitamin companies, patient groups, food manufacturers public health departments and charities. Everyone likes to believe in a miracle vitamin pill and feels “they are doing something”.
Vitamin D, despite its star status, would not be called a vitamin today, as the doses needed are too large, the body can synthesise it from skin, and it is a steroid precursor. Instead of relying on this impostor, healthy people should get vitamin D from small doses of sunshine every day as well as from food, such as fish, oil, mushrooms and dairy products.
We should also trust that thousands of years of evolution would cope with a natural drop in vitamin D levels in winter without us snapping our limbs. About half the population take vitamins daily, despite zero benefits, with increasing evidence of harm. The worldwide trend of adding unregulated vitamins to processed food has now to be seriously questioned.
While vitamin D treatment still has a rare medical role in severe deficiency, or those bed bound, the rest of us should avoid being “treated” with this steroid for this pseudo-disease and focus on having a healthy lifestyle, sunshine and importantly save your money and energy on eating a rich diversity of real food.
Summary: A new study reports people living in areas with more sun light have lower rates of OCD.
Source: Binghamton University.
Living at higher latitudes, where there is also less sunlight, could result in a higher prevalence rate of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.
“The results of this project are exciting because they provide additional evidence for a new way of thinking about OCD,” said Meredith Coles, professor of psychology at Binghamton University. “Specifically, they show that living in areas with more sunlight is related to lower rates of OCD.”
To compile their data, Coles and her research team read through many papers that addressed OCD prevalence rates in certain places and then recorded the latitudes of each location.
Individuals with OCD commonly report not being able to fall asleep until later than desired. Often times, they will then sleep in very late in order to compensate for that lost sleep, thus adopting a delayed sleep-wake pattern that may have adverse effects on their symptoms.
Individuals with OCD commonly report not being able to fall asleep until later than desired. Often times, they will then sleep in very late in order to compensate for that lost sleep, thus adopting a delayed sleep-wake pattern that may have adverse effects on their symptoms. NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.
“This delayed sleep-wake pattern may reduce exposure to morning light, thereby potentially contributing to a misalignment between our internal biology and the external light-dark cycle,” said Coles. “People who live in areas with less sunlight may have less opportunities to synchronize their circadian clock, leading to increased OCD symptoms.”
This misalignment is more prevalent at higher latitudes – areas where there is reduced exposure to sunlight – which places people living in these locations at an increased risk for the development and worsening of OCD symptoms. These areas subsequently exhibit higher lifetime prevalence rates of the disorder than areas at lower latitudes.
While it is too soon to implement any specific treatment plans based on this new information, future studies are in the works to test a variety of treatment methods that address sleep and circadian rhythm disruptions.
“First, we are looking at relations between sleep timing and OCD symptoms repeatedly over time in order to begin to think about causal relationships,” said Coles. “Second, we are measuring circadian rhythms directly by measuring levels of melatonin and having people wear watches that track their activity and rest periods. Finally, we are conducting research to better understand how sleep timing and OCD are related.”
Additionally, the team of researchers hopes that further study exploring exposure to morning light could help develop new treatment recommendations that would benefit individuals with OCD.
In case you needed any more proof of how essential vitamin D is to good health, researchers have warned that placebo-controlled trials that involve limiting some people’s intake of the all-star nutrient could be considered unethical.
This presents a serious quandary for researchers. Demonstrating the efficacy of vitamin D in studies is essential for boosting awareness and acceptance of its treatment effects, but the very design of many studies could cause some patients to miss out on the vitamins they need.
Writing in the journal Nutrients, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences Integrative Medicine Program Director Dr. Leigh Frame outlined just what could happen if a person known to be deficient in vitamin D was denied it. The potential problems include poor short-term or long-term bone health and a higher risk of chronic disease, cancer, autoimmunity, infection and mental illness.
The researchers involved in the review cited two types of trial design as having potentially conflicting objectives. The first is studies with an active control arm with no placebo group. In this case, they point out that the benefit of such a study could be dampened if the absence of a placebo causes them to get non-significant results. Having an active control could limit the possibility of detecting meaningful effects from the supplement.
In the case of placebo trials, valuable information is often gleaned but the ethical questions could be a deal-breaker. Because vitamin D deficiency is a “known harm” and vitamin D has known benefits, they believe that withholding adequate supplementation from some people in the study could cause them an undue health risk. They believe the potential benefits that can be gained by determining an ideal dose of vitamin D would not necessarily outweigh the harm that could be caused to those who are deprived of supplementation.
They’ve identified two possible solutions to these problems. First, they suggest designing trials that have placebo groups but without supplement restrictions. For example, a study called the Vitamin D and Omega 3 Trial allowed participants to take up to 400 IU per day, which is the recommended daily allowance. The researchers in that study then monitored the vitamin D levels of people in both groups; the control group was effective despite having slightly higher background levels of vitamin D.
Another solution they put forth entails having a placebo group but then giving them a rescue repletion program at the close of the study. Those in the placebo group might have a vitamin D deficiency during the study, but they’d be given doses afterward that could reduce their risk of harm. They say this would not only protect the methodology but would also stay in line with the ethical placebo group guidelines set out by the 2001 Declaration of Helsinki.
Vitamin D’s list of benefits continues to grow
Vitamin D continues to be the subject of trials and studies as more and more information comes to light regarding what a powerful tool it is for optimum health. For example, one recent study found that vitamin D has the potential to cut a person’s risk of cancer by 20 percent or even more.
In addition, it plays a vital role in bone health, helping your body absorb much-needed minerals like phosphorus and calcium and reducing your risk of fractures. It also helps reduce your risk of both types of diabetes, and those with sufficient vitamin D intake also have a lower risk of heart disease.
Daily exposure to natural sunlight without sunscreen is the best way to boost your vitamin D levels, but supplementation is a good route when this isn’t possible. Follow more news on Vitamin D at VitaminD.news.
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