Saturday, 6 July 2013

The sun and health inequalities in the UK

The importance of the sun can be illustrated by this image of the variation of sunshine throughout the UK. The variation is striking and the contrast between the south-east of England and the north-west of Scotland is prticularly dramatic.

This map is effectively a map of various health observations, and these include:

coronary heart disease (CHD)
multiple sclerosis
dental health
lung cancer
cancer survival rates
life expectancy

People living in the south-east are at a considerable advantage, with a gradient towards the north-west of the UK, people in the west of Scotland having the greatest disadvantage.

The geographical inequality of health has been known for many years but has not been corrected. It is assumed that people living in the south-east are particularly virtuous, having an impecable lifestyle that includes eating "the right foods". This does not stand up to scrutiny (later Post). The reason for the variation lies in the geography itself, not human behaviour. Greater exposure to the sun, mediated by vitamin D and improved immunity, gives rise to better health and greater life expectancy. Government acceptance of this probability could lead to correction of the geographical inequalities of health. Answers are sometimes simple and obvious, if our eyes are open.

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