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Letters to the Editor Issue 83

by Letters(more info)

listed in letters to the editor, originally published in issue 83 - December 2002

Help Needed Radiation and Diabetes: Christmas Island Veteran

I am an ex-service man who served on Christmas Island with the Royal Engineers, 1957-1958. I was a plant operator on excavators and bulldozers. Three atomic bombs were tested whilst I was on Christmas Island. During this period I was sprayed with DDT daily, to kill the flies; I did not have any protective clothing or face masks. Two years on returning to England I was diagnosed diabetic, a further two years later, I began experiencing blisters and boils, which ever since have been recurring on my feet, legs and arms. This condition has developed further with toes falling off and long periods of hospitalization. I have suffered from diabetes mellitus as well as angina, high blood pressure and various skin complaints. I am trying for a war pension and looking for information and help to prove my case. I have been virtually unemployable due to illnesses due to my condition. Could anyone point me in the right direction of other people with the same conditions please. I particularly need help regarding radiation and diabetes and trauma diabetes. My address is, 2nd Floor Chelsea House, 120 Wells Road, Bath BA2 3AH.

Thank you
Bruce Cox

Contact Details Professor Jane Plant?

Hello. My name is Carolyn and I am from New Zealand. I purchased the book in your review Your Life in Your Hands by Jane Plant. I have tried to contact her at the email address supplied in the book and the email address is not current.

My sister has a very rare and aggressive cancer (a low-grade endometrial stromal sarcoma which is oestrogen-dependent) and I would like to contact Jane and I wonder if you can help by either emailing me her address or passing on this letter to her and she might then email me.

I would really appreciate your efforts in trying to do this for me and I look forward to hearing from you concerning this.


Dangers of Sunlight

In his article The Life and Cancer Protecting Properties of Sunlight, Richard Hobday castigates the medical profession for discouraging the public from sunbathing, and brings up fascinating examples from the past to prove the sun's beneficial effects on human health. Unfortunately what was true even thirty years ago is no longer so. What the author omits to mention is the huge and growing hole in the ozone layer whose function it is to filter out the harmful components of UV light.

Yet it is the thinning and destruction of the ozone layer by human activity that accounts for the alarming rise in the incidence of melanoma, the fastest-spreading cancer that starts in the skin but can spread into any part of the body, and once that has happened, is impossible to cure by conventional methods.

Of course Vitamin D is important for health, but to claim that the threat to public health caused by underexposure to sunlight may be far more significant than that posed by skin cancer is, in my view, erroneous and misleading.

Beata Bishop

Richard Hobday replies

Beata Bishop raises a commonly held concern regarding the depletion of the Earth's ozone layer and its effects on human health. High levels of UVB radiation are being recorded in Antarctica each spring, and spasmodic local variations in UVR have been reported. However, the National Radiological Protection Board recently concluded that: "There is no convincing evidence from published measurement data worldwide for populated areas to indicate a global trend of changing solar UVR at the Earth's surface with time or with stratospheric conditions."[1]

There is certainly no evidence to support the widely held view that malignant melanoma is in some way related to depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer. From 1957 to 1984 the incidence of malignant melanoma in Norway increased by 350 per cent for men and 440 per cent for women. During the same period there was no change in ozone levels over Norway nor any significant change in annual exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun.[2] Furthermore, the exact nature of the relationship between malignant melanoma and the sun has yet to be determined. Melanoma can arise in internal organs[3,4] and lesions can develop on the skin in the absence of sun exposure.[5]

The position regarding vitamin D deficiency is more straightforward. Sunlight exposure of the skin is the most important source of vitamin D. In Europe and Australia the recommended dietary intake of vitamin D is set at a level which assumes that most of the population get enough casual exposure to sunlight to meet their vitamin D requirements. The commonly used RDA (recommended daily allowance) for adults in Europe – 200 IU/day – is not sufficient if sunlight exposure is limited.[6] Thus, anyone who follows the typical western lifestyle, and spends most of their time indoors when the sun is out may have very low levels of vitamin D. Well-intentioned publicity which advocates sun avoidance can only compound the problem. In Australia, where the anti-sun campaign has been particularly successful, vitamin D deficiency now affects nearly one in four women.[7]

I do not wish to diminish the seriousness of malignant melanoma, which claims more than 1,600 lives in the UK each year. However, 15,000 lives are lost annually to hip fractures, while breast and colon cancer together take 30,000 lives, and 9,000 men die from prostate cancer. There are also 140,000 deaths from coronary heart disease. If, as the literature suggests, vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor for these and other conditions, I feel it important to point out the dangers of underexposure to sunlight.

Richard Hobday PhD


1. Health Effects of Ultraviolet Radiation, Report of an Advisory Group on Non-ionising Radiation National Radiological Protection Board, Didcot, Oxfordshire. 13(1): 29. 2002.
2. Moan J and Dahlback A. The relationship between skin cancers, solar radiation and ozone depletion. Brit J Cancer 65: 916-921.1992.
3. Karnauchau PN. Melanoma and sun exposure. Lancet 346: 915. 1995.
4. Hinds MW. Nonsolar factors in the epidemiology of malignant melanoma. Nat Cancer Inst Monogr 62: 173-178. 1992.
5. Williams HC. Melanoma with no sun exposure. Lancet 346: 581. 1995.
6. Glerup H, Mikkelsen K et al. Commonly recommended daily intake of vitamin D is not sufficient if sunlight exposure is limited. J Intern Med 247: 260-268. 2000.
7. Nowson CA and Margerison C. Vitamin D intake and vitamin D status in Australians. Med J Aust 177: 149-152. 2002.

How to Create a Healthy Living Space

I thoroughly enjoyed all of the September issue of Positive Health (passed on to me by a friend after she had finished reading her copy), particularly the article 'How to Create a Healthy Living Space' by Anat Cohen BMed. I have been removing harmful chemicals from my home for the last couple of years (cleaning and personal care products). I was surprised however that no mention was made that Dr Samuel Epstein is the Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition, is the author of The Safe Shoppers Bible, The Politics of Cancer Revisited and The Breast Cancer Prevention Programme. Nor was any mention made of the personal care products that Dr Epstein endorses.

Mrs Maureen Fulwell

The Editor Replies

The reader is absolutely correct regarding Dr Epstein's giant stature in this field; references to his books and reviews thereof have been published in previous issues of Positive Health:

Editorial Issue 40; Book Review Your Life in Your Hands by Prof Janet Plant; Editorial Issue 65; Toxic Chemical Overload by Michael Brooking and Naheed Zaman;

In fact, Anat Cohen did mention and refer to one of Dr Epstein's published papers in the scientific literature in her article in Issue 80.

It is very heartening that our readers are so on their toes; perhaps they ought to obtain their very own copy of the magazine, rather than relying on friends to pass their copies to them.

Sandra Goodman, Ph.D.

EU Supplement Directive

European Union Directive on Food Supplements The European Union directive was published on July 12, 2002 in the Official Journal of the European Communities. The bad news for freedom-loving and supplement-using Europeans is that member countries have until July 31, 2003 to designate 'maximum levels' of vitamins and minerals and regulate how they can be sold. Our guess is that, assuming this is really carried out, it will merely result in a large black market of vitamins and minerals that meet the customers' standards, not necessarily those of the central European government. Customers do not necessarily always make wise choices in their purchases, but a one-size-fits-all government choice that is generally made to avoid risks to the government's political exposure rather than serving individual health goals, is unlikely to be either wise or enforceable. A better role for the government would be to provide information and let consumers make their own decisions.

Source: July 2002 Director's Report of the American Association for Health Freedom (formerly the American Medical Preventive Association)
Sender: Christine Doyle

Outrage EU Supplement Directive

I enclose the letter I wrote to my MP, The Department of Health and Tony Blair concerning the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive and European Foods Supplements Directive, both passed this summer by unelected officials in Brussels which is going to decimate our right to take nutritional supplements.

The outlawed nutrients document is the list so far of nutrients that will be banned altogether under the Food Supplements Directive. Examples include MSM (sulphur), Boron (vital for reducing and reversing menopuase symptoms, osteoporosis and arthrititis, Chromium picolinate, and silicon. However it is worse than you think. Even the allowed nutrients are liable to be capped at ludicrously low levels. Moreover the herbal directive is going to ban ALL unlicensed remedies of more than two herbs. A license will be slow and expensive to obtain, more than the resources of most nutritional companies. Once these nutrients, invaluable to our health are banned, they won't be unbanned. If you think this can't happen, you are mistaken; it already has happened, and our last chance is to fight its implementation. There are only two ways of doing this: 1) Campaigning by writing to your MPs and Euro MPs something along the lines of my letter opposing the two directives, questioning the Europeans' right to take away our right to take whatever supplements we wish, and if possible why the supplements are vital to you personally; 2) A legal challenge. The former you all know how to do, and it is urgent if you care. The implementation begins within the coming months. The latter is being led by my friend Liam Young and requires whatever financial assistance you may wish to contribute. Please contact him at for more information.

Meanwhile, if you care, get writing, and don't wait for others to do it. Apathy WILL result in most of your supplements being banned, or to use the technical term, withdrawn from sale. For further help you can visit

Mark G. Lester, BA (Hons), Tel: 020-8349 4730

Example Letter to Your MP

Dr Rudi Vis M.P.
The House of Commons
London SW1A OAA

Dear Dr Vis,

I am writing to your to express my horror and anger concerning the passing of the European Foods Supplements Directive. Though ostensibly passed to 'protect' the public, this Directive, together with the proposed Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive, in fact promises to remove from sale the vast majority of the many safe and effective vitamins, minerals and herbal remedies from available in the UK. Even the products which will continue to be allowed to be sold, are likely to be capped at ludicrously low levels, based on fractions of the recommended daily allowance (the amount required to prevent gross deficiency) rather than optimal amounts.

The food supplements industry, by improving people's health, takes a huge strain off the NHS. Side effects are extremely rare. This contrasts strongly with conventional medicine. The Clinical Risk Unit at University College, London conservatively estimates that 40,000 people are killed and 280,000 people suffer from medical mismanagement in the UK alone, making conventional medicine the third largest cause of death in the UK. I do not know of such risks from nutritional and herbal supplements – the reason being that the supplements are manifestly non-toxic and very safe indeed compared not only with conventional medicine, but also with nicotine and alcohol – which continue to be freely available on every high street.

I strongly object to this insult to my right and basic freedom to put whatever substances into my body that I deem beneficial to my health. More to the point, with conventional medicine being the third largest cause of death in the UK, I elect to make responsible health choices for myself, and do not require petty minded, meddlesome, interference and nannying directives concerning my right to make decisions pertaining to my health from the European Union.

I am someone whose health has been transformed by the use of herbal combination remedies, yet under the herbal directive, any supplement of more than three herbs will be emasculated or withdrawn for sale (a polite expression for 'banned'). I understand that companies producing herbal remedies will be able to apply to have certain eligible products licensed, but only at a cost that would put virtually all of them out of business. I know from experience that my health will greatly suffer if the products I take are banned.

One obvious example of the insanity of the Directive is the plan to ban organic forms of selenium from sale. It is well known that: 1) Organic selenium is safer and more efficacious than inorganic selenium; 2) Organic selenium is the natural form present in food; and 3) Taking 200mcg organic selenium per day has been shown in a large, randomized double blind study, to reduce the risk of dying of cancer by 50%. How dare the Europeans try to prevent my access to this nutrient?

I look forward to hearing how you propose to defend the basic human right and freedom to choose what to put into one's body for the sake of health, by opposing the implementation of these two ill-considered directives in the UK. For you not to do so would be to acquiesce to harming the health of not only myself, but as a therapist in the natural health field of ten years successful practice, also of my hundreds of satisfied and healthy clients who wish to continue to maintain their right to take the supplements that have transformed their health.

Yours faithfully
Mark G Lester, BA (Hons)
Tel: 020 8349 4730

Food Supplements Industry Fights Off European Restrictions

Press Release: European Health Product Manufacturers

A European Commission proposal to extend pharmaceutical powers to judge and classify food supplements has been rejected by the European Parliament thanks to the united voices of three leading European trade associations.

Yesterday (Wednesday 23 October) the Parliament voted to reject the Commission's proposed extension of the scope of the new medicines Directive*. The Parliament's rejection of the Commission's plans follows a hard-fought campaign by the European Health Product Manufacturers Association (EHPM) and its members, who joined forces with the European Responsible Nutrition Alliance (ERNA), the European dietetic food association (IDACE) and the European food industry federation (CIAA).

The campaign is part of a long struggle to provide a clear legal status for food supplements under food law. The recent EU food supplement Directive appeared tohave provided food supplements with a 'safe haven', but the Commission's medicinal proposal has thrown their future into doubt once more.

The Commission had proposed that any product falling under the definition of a medicine should be treated as a medicine regardless of whether it also fell under the scope of other EU food or supplement legislation. Given that the current definition of a medicine includes substances that 'modify physiological functions', food supplements, foods and cosmetics could all fall under this definition and therefore be controlled by pharmaceutical authorities under the new rules. "This would give the national medicine agencies unprecedented powers to decide on whether supplements could be sold or not and would negate the benefits of the recent supplement Directive," argued Anthony Bush, Chairman of the EHPM. "It could lead to the sort of destructive, arbitrary decisions at a national level that necessitated the supplement Directive in the first place."

The current definition of a medicine has been a further successful target of the campaign. The definition of a medicine was first drafted in 1965 and preceded the current consumer interest in health-oriented food supplements. At that time, the definition of a medicine was extremely broad to include emerging medicines such as the contraceptive pill, and embrace, not only the cure, prevention and treatment of disease, but also those products "modifying physiological functions". This all-inclusive definition has shaped regulator's thinking over the subsequent decades and has left the food supplement industry fighting to defend its corner. "The definition of a food supplement is a critical issue that has been a thorn in the side of the food industry for over 30 years", said Bush.

A qualifying amendment proposed by EHPM, ERNA and CIAA sets out the difference between the physiological functions of foods and those of medicines. With the adoption of the amendment "modifying physiological function by exerting a pharmacological action", the European Parliament has forced the Commission and Member States to thoroughly rethink the medicines definition. "The food-medicine borderline issue is a notoriously tricky one," comments ERNA Chairman Luc Claessens, "but yesterday's result is an important first step to redressing the balance for our industry."

*The full title of the medicines Directive is Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2001/83/EC on the Community code relating to medicinal products for human use and the supplements Directive is Directive 2002/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 June 2002 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to food supplements.

Further Information
Pedro Vicente Azua, EHPM,
50 rue de l'Association,
B-1000 Brussels, Belgium.

Tel: +32 (0)2 209 1155;
Fax +32 (0)2 223 30 64;

Update Europe Flouride Ban

Because of health concerns, Belgium banned the sale of fluoride supplements to prevent tooth decay, France removed sodium fluoride from the market for the treatment of osteoporosis and Ireland plans to lower water fluoride levels. And, because poor quality research has been carried out on fluoride and health, British scientists called for more research into the health effects of adding fluoride to drinking water in a report published by the Medical Research Council. europe_fluoride.htm

Chris Gupta


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