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Daring To Go Against The Consensus


By James Donahue

February 2005


The firing of a professor of dermatology from his job at Boston University Medical Center a few months ago because he wrote a book about the benefits of sunlight is an example of just how close minded our schools of knowledge have become.


In his book, The UV Advantage, Michael Holick recommends that people spend a few minutes, two or three times a week depending on skin type, exposed to the sun without sun cream.


Holick argues something that we have all known for a long time, that our bodies need sunlight to absorb natural vitamin D. He also reminds us that that little solar exposure also gladdens our day, thus alleviating depression, and helps maintain good health.


What is new and controversial about that?


Plenty, according to the contemporary world of dermatology, that regards sunshine as an enemy of human skin. That Holick, a professor in the field of dermatology at a prestigious medical school would dare to challenge this cherished belief among his piers, apparently was among the greatest of offenses.


Under pressure from the other professors in his field, Holick was forced to resign last fall from the department of dermatology, although he remains head of the bone health care clinic and director of the general clinical research center.


This kind of thinking among our so-called men of higher learning makes me think that we may still be closer to the dark ages than we like to think. After all, it was only five hundred years ago that most people still thought the world was flat and even more recently that Spaniards searched the “New World” for a fabled fountain of youth.


The sacking of Professor Holick from the department of dermatology because he dared to write a book reminding us of the health benefits of moderate sunlight makes me renew my argument that the field of contemporary medicine is clearly moving in the wrong direction.


What Holick did with this book was offend one of the largest financial institutions operating in the nation today . . . the producers of skin creams that block “harmful” ultra violet rays from the sun.


Few people realize that a world-wide promotional campaign has convinced billions that the sun is, indeed, a deadly enemy and that we do not dare to step in its rays without first rubbing the exposed parts of our bodies with protective creams. This campaign has made the sale of skin creams, HUV protective sun glasses and other solar protective devices among the hottest selling items in the world.


It is an ultra billion dollar industry. The dermatologists are groomed to be among the industry’s biggest promoters.


Thus the sacking of Holick for daring to say what he did involved money, not that he said anything incorrect in his book.


My fear is that the entire medical industry has gone down the same path the dermatologists have taken. Our family doctor is no longer interested in relieving the pain and suffering as much as he is a trained pill pusher, promoting the latest high-cost cure for problems that probably don’t even exist.


Doctors also have become so specialized that it is almost impossible for a person to walk into a medical office today and get immediate relief for a symptom.


I remember when I was a child, my father took me to a local physician, a small-town chiropractor, to examine a lump that developed in my left eye lid. This wise man took one look at it, declared it to be a harmful cyst, then quickly used a scalpel to lance it right there in his office. He did such a clean job that there was never a scar and the problem never came back.  


Not long ago, a small growth developed on the side of my nose and I went to see a local doctor thinking I should have it removed. He made an appointment for me to see a skin specialist. This specialist, located in an office about sixty miles from where I lived, was so busy I had to wait months to get an appointment.


When the day came for me to keep the appointment I had a serious conflict with my job and had to cancel. When I called to discuss the visit with a receptionist, I learned that this doctor was only going to examine the growth during the visit and determine if surgery was needed. If removal was required, he would refer me to a skin surgeon for yet another appointment.


I could see my insurance company doling out thousands of dollars for the removal of a minute little growth on my nose that that old chiropractor from my childhood years would have scraped away in a heartbeat and for a modest price.


It was at this point that I threw up my hands and told them all where to go. In the meantime, I treated the problem vitamin C oils and the growth gradually went away.

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