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Let there be sunlight! Is sunscreen implicated in the development and rise in the incidence of autism?

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by Sandy Gottstein

In the past year some interesting information has “come across my desk”, which suggest to me a very interesting possibility.  These findings are as follows:

  1. Vitamin D deficiencies have been found to be related to auto-immune disorders, autism, and cancer and cardiovascular disease.
  2. The recommended dose for vitamin D is thought by some to be way too low.
  3. Fish at lower depths in the ocean accumulate higher levels of mercury.

It is well known that sunscreen inhibits the natural formation of vitamin D.  If the lack of sun at lower ocean depths results in a reduced ability to excrete mercury, might sun phobia and the consequent near ubiquitous use of sunscreen, have played a role in the development and ongoing rise in autism rates?  Might those who are exposed to mercury, whether via fish, vaccines or any other source, and who use sunscreen, be more likely to develop autism due to a decreased ability to excrete mercury?  Might those who are exposed to mercury but do not use sunscreen and/or get adequate natural sun exposure be less likely to develop autism?  Might the double whammy of increasing mercury in vaccines combined with increased sunscreen use have at least partly driven the alarming rise in autism?  Might its continued rise be at least partly due to ongoing, accumulating exposure to mercury from various sources and continued use of sunscreen? 

Finally, if mercury does play a role in the development of autism, might adequate exposure to sunlight improve the condition of those who have autism as a result of that mercury exposure?

It is worth noting that sunlight has long been thought to have therapeutic value, including for TB and schizophrenia (e.g., 1,2,3,4).  Perhaps it is really true that there is nothing new under the sun!

Scientific American in 2009 posted an article that argued for a possible autism/vitamin D connection.  Dr. John Cannell posited the same notion a year earlier in Medical Hypotheses.  He continues to sound the alarm, including on the Vitamin D Council website and in additional journal publishings.  Neither Scientific American nor Cannell, however, seems to have ever mentioned the role sunscreen might also play. At least one source, Environmental Health News, however, recently has.

It is well past the time to thoroughly investigate a possible vitamin D/sunscreen/autism connection, a hypothesis which could illuminate not only a cause but a cure.  Shedding sunlight on this all-important topic is just what the doctor needs to order.


Sandy Gottstein

Date: 10-3-2013


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“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” – Wendell Phillips (1811-1884), paraphrasing John Philpot Curran