by Oliver Gillie
The Chief Medical Officers and Cancer Research UK have given cautious advice on sunshine and vitamin D, but it is the wrong kind of caution and poor advice, writes Oliver Gillie
News that the Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, is “profoundly ashamed” at the return of rickets is greatly encouraging. Rickets, the bone disease of children, is only one of dozens of diseases associated with, or known to be caused by, insufficient vitamin D in early life. At last it seems the risks of vitamin D deficiency are being taken seriously.
Dermatologists worldwide have persuaded a generation of people to stay out of the sun and cover up with suncream, desperately depriving them of vitamin D. While this has made millions for suncream sales, the consequence has been a rapid increase in multiple sclerosis, type 1diabetes and other autoimmune diseases which we are only now beginning to understand. 
Nivea has recently given Cancer Research UK £2.5 million, and this is not the first generous donation of millions that CRUK have taken from a suncream company. It comes in gratitude for the advice CRUK has given over many years to use suncream regularly and in ever larger amounts. A small dollop is not enough– suncream manufacturers say handfuls need to be put on 20 to 30 minutes before venturing outside.
Cancer charity frightened a generation
The advice may make sense on a Mediterranean holiday when English people stay on the beach midday while wiser people move into the shade. In England suncream may be needed on exceptionally hot sunny days around midday, especially for sports people obliged to stay in the sun. But CRUK have frightened a generation of British people with advice better suited to Australians.