August 21, 2007

Guest Post: Norabarnacle Takes on UV rays!

So Crabby has on several occasions left her accustomed post at Cranky Fitness in order to go Guest Blogging elsewhere. Today, she is doing the opposite--making up for the pretend post below by bringing you some Actual Science by one of our favorite Commenters, NoraBarnacle! She is the host of Crunchy 'Nanas, and she is braving the confusing research around Sunshine and Breast Cancer and making some actual sense of it. She even takes on the Cranky Fitness' bizarre Third Person Format in solidarity with the Crab--not for the blogger who is Faint of Heart!

Now here's her post!

In the height of the summer sunshine, a recent study suggests that UV rays may actually do one some good in the fight against breast cancer. Or, at least the headline writers and journalists want us to think so.

The results from a study by a team at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska show that in a group of women who’ve passed menopause, the lower the level of vitamin D in their bloodstreams, the higher their risk of developing breast cancer. Sun exposure is important in the mechanism for incorporating vitamin D into our bodies, so let’s head out into the sun and fight our risk for breast cancer! Right?

Careful! Don’t go stripping down to your undie-roos and streaking into the burning noonday sun yet. The study examined the effect of calcium and vitamin D supplements. The women who were given both supplements had less than half the chance of developing breast cancer than those offered the placebo. The researchers went one step further and said their findings were consistent with data showing that “cancer risk, cancer mortality, or both are inversely associated with solar exposure, vitamin D status, or both”.

All this seems to be telling Norabarnacle the best of the skin cancer/breast cancer trade-off might actually be vitamin D and calcium supplements and remaining responsible (sunscreen, hats, and not laying out for hours on end, as deliciously tempting as that sounds!) when jaunting out of doors.

Also, if you enjoy playing in the sun, you might consider a cup of joe before you exercise. Another UK study shows that caffeine and exercise working together increases apoptosis (a scary sounding word that usually makes Norabarnacle think of snapping air-filled bubble wrap pockets, but actually means “cell death”) of damaged or cancerous cells. This could be good news for coffee and cola junkies, or at least active coffee and cola junkie mice, who saw a whooping 400% increase in apoptosis. Alas, the theory still needs to be tested out in humans. Still, it seems prevention is better than treatment: caffeine shouldn’t be substituted for sunscreen and responsible sun practices to prevent skin cancer to begin with.

Norabarnacle’s an avid sun-worshiper. Like a shivering lizard to a sun-soaked rock, she basks in it. But, until there is more evidence, you won’t see her swapping sunscreen and shady breaks for sunbathing au natural for hours on end in hopes of preventing breast cancer. And being neither a coffee nor a cola drinker, she won’t be jumping to get her morning fix before she strides out into the sunny sunshine. However in Belgium, they do have some dark chocolate napolitains with tea... she’s not sure how much caffeine is actually in those, but they might be worth a shot!

And Crabby would just like to step back into the blog for a moment and say Thank You, NoraBarnacle!


  1. I drink coffee and take a responsible amount of sunshine.
    We all have to die of something, Norabarnacle, but I suppose there's no point speeding the process.
    Great guest post.

  2. we seemed to be thinking along the same lines today. I posted something about a study on skin cancer and oh boy, am I getting slammed with comments. Unfortunately, most have to be deleted due to their, um, well, let's just say "mature audience" language.


  3. I'm with you, Leah, (and with Norabarnacle)--sunshine and coffee are both too wonderful not to enjoy, but sensible precautions and moderation are always smart ideas.

    Wow, Marijke, I just went to your site and who knew? There must be some weird contingent of tanning bed users or something that descend on blogs that don't have nice things to say about UV rays.

    Probably not smart of me to have left a comment over there--perhaps they'll come here as well! The tone was so off-putting I couldn't even make myself visit their site to see what their actual agenda was.

  4. thanks Crabby. I like the one who told me that I was ugly. Shows the mentality.
    They're also not *reading* what I wrote. One quoted me as saying 900 people die of skin cancer in NA. That is *not* what I said. Sheesh.

    I also didn't say that we had to avoid the sun. I even referred to an earlier post that said that we need the sun.

    I guess if people have an agenda, they'll just pick what they want to comment on, including my appearance.

    On the bright side, it definitely has picked up the number of hits on my blog!

  5. " caffeine and exercise working together increase apoptosis"

    Oh crap I'm screwed...:)

    Interesting study tho - I've never seen links of exercise+caffeine to apoptosis before (and apoptosis is an areas of research for me)

    You guys keep filling my brain with new things. Thanks!

  6. OK...oops. I'm not tyhat the brain's firing, I realise running+caffeine=good!

    Well woot for me. I'll live a long while then.

    I really should wake up before I post...(perhaps with a run and a cuppa?) :)

  7. marijke,
    well, they say controversy is good for traffic--though what you said was hardly controversial!

    Geosomin, yes, more caffeine for all of us! I love that exercise+caffeine==good, because that's the only way exercise happens for me!

    Hi Moose, I agree! She rules! Perhaps she'll come by for a visit down here--maybe if I just get out of the way for a bit!

  8. I'm here, I'm here, I'm here! Just goes to show, never trust what the Google Reader says (on the number of new comments, anyway). I was like, oh um, Crabby's never gonna let me guest post again. It's probably the first time she's gotten so few comments...and then I clicked through and there's way more than the Reader let on.

    So let's me see. To clarify, totally not knocking the coffee. I'd drink it. If it didn't put me to sleep. I have enough trouble getting through without naps that I figure I don't need help!

    And now I need to navigate away from the I'll be back.

  9. Okay, well that was enlightening. Marijke, who would have thought your post would have provoked such vehement comments? Kind of strange, but hopefully people will get back to being civil and constructing arguments and not attacks! And I totally agree, we do need the sun in responsible amounts.

    Geosomin, I had to read the apoptosis thing a few times. The first time I went through the study I was just kind of like, hmmm that's funny, I would think apoptosis would be a bad thing. (Don't ask me how it increases apoptosis of cancerous cells but leaves the healthy cells sitting pretty. But I would be interested to know that actually.)

    Moose, your check is in the mail.

    And now, it's bed time over here in the UK.

  10. Oh now I'm feeling bad. In my usual obsessive ways I just re-read my replies and realized I didn't not specifically address my reply to you, Leah. And now you're probably snarling at my rudeness. I won't be able to sleep until I set it right (or drink some coffee).

    Leah, to clarify, totally not knocking the coffee. I'd drink it. If it didn't put me to sleep. I have enough trouble getting through without naps that I figure I don't need help!

    And now I'll really leave, before I make an even bigger fool of myself.

  11. Just kidding. I forgot to say something really important.

    THANK YOU, CRABBY for giving me the opportunity to post on your awesome blog!!! But, um, where's my cupcake? ;-)

  12. Norabarnacle, thanks for an interesting and informative blog. And I love your name!

    Marijke, your blog was fine, but some of your commentors are a little strange.


  13. Norabarnacle,
    Thank you so much, not only for writing the post but for showing up in the comments and being as weirdly obsessive as I am about them!

    And Hi Terrie! Yes, weren't Marijke's UV comments unexpected? Not like her "regular" visitors who are all quite smart and civilized!

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