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The Urgency of New Strategies in Sun Care

By: Marie Alice Dibon
Posted: June 4, 2010, from the June 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

In 2009, I sat next to a Federal Reserve employee on a Paris-Washington flight, who, when he found out that I was working in the field of cosmetics, proceeded to tell me that he would never use sunscreens again. Surprised, I asked why. The man had very white skin and my memories of Washington are not those of a city lacking sun. With a latitude of 38o53’, DC is actually much closer to Algiers (36o45’) than it is to Paris (48o52’).

I couldn’t see why someone that white would want to put themselves at risk even when working in their yard.

“Vitamin D deficiency," he replied. "I was diagnosed with a severe deficiency last year, put on heavy supplements and told I needed to get in the sun more. I am not about to put sunscreen on again, it took them months to figure it out and I was a mess.”

I explored the issue a little further, and was indeed appalled by what I found: the numbers vary, but there is a general consensus that there is a deficiency problem.

There are people disputing the results, with disagreements on the levels considered actual deficiency and due to the fact that the measuring methods have changed in the last 30 years, but, in fact, these deficiencies are indeed due to a lack of sun.