Toronto Vitamin D Conference
March 8, 2006






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Vitamin D Conference - Various health groups announced the key findings of the first North American Conference on UV, Vitamin D and Health on May 25, 2006. They also revealed what areas needed more research.

The conference was held at the Metropolitan Hotel Toronto, 108 Chestnut Street, Toronto, Canada.




Toronto Skyline at Night, Canada
Toronto Skyline at Night, Canada

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Schwabel, Jim
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Vitamin D Conference
Clinicians and researchers from Canada, the United States and Australia presented information on the following:

  • Health affects of Vitamin D
  • Methods of obtaining Vitamin D
    • Supplements
    • Diet
    • Sunlight containing both UVA and UVB radiation
  • Health Risks of UV radiation exposure

Vitamin D Conference
National health organizations met after the conference to start developing consistent health messages for the public about:

  • Nutrition
  • Public Health
  • Dermatology
  • Bone Health
  • Cancer
  • Autoimmune diseases


Vitamin D Conference
The key messages of the conference were endorsed by:

  • American Cancer Society
  • Canadian Cancer Society
  • American College of Rheumatology
  • Canadian Dermatology Association
  • National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention (USA)
  • Dietitians of Canada
  • Osteoporosis Canada
  • World Health Organization Collaborative Centre for the Promotion of Sun Protection

The key messages also were developed with support from the staff of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Vitamin D Conference
The key findings of the conference were:

  1. Harm from the exposure to UV radiation from the sun and other sources is supported by strong evidence and include skin cancer, melanoma and some cataracts. Therefore, sun protection is required when the UV index is 3 or higher, based on expert consensus.
  2. The benefits of adequate vitamin D on musculoskeletal health and the prevention of bone fractures in the elderly is supported by strong evidence. There is growing evidence that vitamin D may have beneficial effects on some types of cancer, especially colorectal cancer. Experts are concerned that vitamin D levels may be too low in the general population to achieve the aforementioned health benefits.
  3. To obtain vitamin D the skin must be exposed to UVB radiation, diet and supplementation. To minimize risks associated with UVB radiation the preferred method is supplementation with small amounts of sun exposure. The risks of UVB radiation exposure must be weighed against the benefits of exposure as a source of vitamin D. A few minutes of sun exposure a day may cause skin damage in some individuals. Age, skin pigmentation, diet, geographic location and sun intensity will all effect the amount of sun exposure needed to produce adequate vitamin D. More research is needed before more specific recommendations can be made.
  4. Groups at risk for not obtaining adequate amounts of vitamin D are:
    • The elderly
    • Individuals with dark skin pigmentation
    • Breast-fed babies
    • Individuals with limited skin exposure to the sun such as the housebound and individuals who wear clothing covering most of the skin because of religious or cultural reasons
    • Individuals living above 370 latitude in the winter




Elderly Woman in a Colourful Sari Raking Over Henna Crop, Village of Borunda, Rajasthan State, Indi
Elderly Woman in a Colourful Sari Raking Over Henna Crop, Village of Borunda, Rajasthan State, Indi

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Simanor, Eitan
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Israeli Mother Breast Feeding Her Baby
Israeli Mother Breast Feeding Her Baby

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Schutzer, Paul
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Vitamin D Conference
More research is needed on the following issues:

  • The optimum blood level concentrations of vitamin D
  • The optimum daily intake of vitamin D
  • The amount of UVB exposure needed to synthesize optimum vitamin D in the skin
  • The appropriate UVB exposure recommendations in different populations such as different skin pigmentation, different age and different geographic latitude.
  • The long-term risks of taking large quantities of vitamin D
  • The clinically relevant level of vitamin D required to decrease the risk of health problems such as cancer.


The information Sessions presented were:

  • Session 1
    • Weighing and expressing strength of evidence
      Barnett Kramer, MD, MPH,National Institutes of Health
  • Session 2
      Vitamin D – Health effects, sources and status in the population

    • Vitamin D and cancer
      Edward Giovannucci, MD, ScD – Harvard University
    • Vitamin D and bone health
      David A. Hanley, BA, MD, FRCPC – University of Calgary
    • Vitamin D and chronic disease
      Terry Dwyer, AO MD MPH – Director, Mudoch Childrens Research Institute
    • Nutritional Vitamin D Status in North America: Relative Contributions from Sun Exposure and Diet
      Bruce W. Hollis, PHD – Medical University of South Carolina
    • Dietary sources and intake levels of vitamin D in Canada and the United States
      Mona Calvo, PhD – US Food and Drug Administration
      Susan Whiting, PhD – Dietitians of Canada and University of Saskatchewan
    • Benefits and harms of vitamin D supplementation
      Reinhold Vieth, PhD – University of Toronto
  • Session 3
      Health risks and benefits of sun exposure

    • Benefits of UV exposure
      Cheryl Rosen, MD – Head, Division of Dermatology, Toronto Western Hospital and University of Toronto
    • Health risk of UV exposure
      Richard Gallagher – Head, Cancer Control Research, BC Cancer Agency
    • Knowledge of the risks from sun exposure
      David Northrup – Institute for Social Research, York University
    • Trends in sun exposure and tanning bed use among youth
      Martin A. Weinstock, MD, PhD – Brown University and Chair, American Cancer Society Skin Cancer Advisory Group



    Steering Committee Members

    Heather Chappell
    Canadian Cancer Society
    National Cancer Institute of Canada

    Richard Gallagher
    Head, Cancer Control Research, BC Cancer Agency
    National Cancer Institute of Canada Board Member

    Allan C. Halpern, MD
    Chair, US National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention

    Barbara Kaminsky
    Canadian Cancer Society
    Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control: Primary Prevention
    Action Group

    Len Lichtenfeld, MD, FACP
    American Cancer Society, Deputy Chief Medical Officer

    Heather Logan
    Canadian Cancer Society
    National Cancer Institute of Canada

    Loraine D. Marrett, PhD
    Cancer Care Ontario, Division of Preventive Oncology

    Cheryl Rosen, MD
    Head, Division of Dermatology, Toronto Western
    Hospital – University of Toronto – Head, Canadian
    Dermatology Associaton National Sun Awareness
    Program – Chair, Canadian Strategy for Cancer
    Control National Sun Safety Committee

    Craig Sinclair
    Chair, Cancer Council Australia’s National Skin
    Committee – Head, World Health Organizaiton
    Collaborative Centre for the Promotion of Sun
    Protection

    Susan Whiting, PhD
    Dietitians of Canada
    University of Saskatchewan: College of Pharmacy
    & Nutrition






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