Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
Vitamin D and an Epidemic
“Do Epidemiologists Cause Epidemics” was a nice editorial in The Lancet, some years ago. The essence of that article was that when society is frightened by any medical scare system—that there is a new epidemic coming to eat you up—even the doctors seem to label every conceivable disease as that epidemic disease. They quoted an epidemic of pneumonia some years ago. When the scare got over, a second review of all pneumonia diagnoses showed that even malaria and Flu-like illnesses were labelled as pneumonia without any evidence. Almost all febrile illnesses were labelled as pneumonia, to be on the safer side! That was the basis of that epidemic and not true pneumonia. 
 
I have been watching a new epidemic lately all over India. Most of the people, who are obsessed about their health, undergo preventive regular screening to avoid any illness and end up with Vitamin D deficiency. Let us think about this Vitamin D epidemic before it gets out of hand and makes people really anxious. You must be in touch with people to know how dangerous that intense fear of any lack of vitamin in the body could cause. Some of them need the help of a clinical psychologist to ease the tension! 
 
How can Indians, especially the poor in India, have vitamin D deficiency when the best source of vitamin D is the sun that is very generous to Indians? The medical business people were keen to see that Indians also get Vitamin D deficiency by telling them that exposure to direct sun can cause cancer. If that were so, all our poor farmers, who work the whole day in hot sun with hardly any clothes on their bodies except the loincloth, should have dropped dead from skin cancer long ago. 
 
All our four-legged animals, whose wide back is exposed to the sun whole day, should have vanished of skin cancer. There is plenty of data to show that skin cancer is more related to the chemicals in the sun-screen lotion rather than the sun! I get confused when people blame the sun for cancer while sun is what keeps us alive on this planet with its electromagnetic energy.
 
Reductionist chemicals-based Vitamin D is not as good as sunlight and is not very safe either, if one exceeds the dosage. We shall come back to that later. Some of us are afraid that our beautiful complexion will worsen if we go out in the sun. True, you do become darker when you go in the sun but that is only temporary. Human body cells change so fast that almost in three months we are new again. So if a girl gets darker, she only has to avoid the sun for three months before she gets back her original skin colour. Sun makes the skin healthier and prevents wrinkling also. As long as we hold on to our slavish thought that ‘white is beautiful’, we will do everything to keep ourselves white—use whitening creams and what have you. But when we realise that ‘black is beautiful’, this craze, and the associated dangerous whitening chemicals, will no longer be needed.
 
A New York-based ethnic Indian pharmaceutical PhD has been able to extract from rice bran and even bagasse a new compound called metadichol in its nano form which has been patented. This has been shown to help stimulate all the Vitamin D receptors in the body thereby boosting the human immune system. Immune boosting has now been shown even to avoid infectious diseases and even heart attacks in people who are prone to it. Details of metadichol are published in the recent issue of The Journal of the Science of Healing Outcomes.
 
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and its overdoses might be very dangerous. One of the leading symptoms of hypervitaminosis D is intense headache due to increased intra-cranial tension. This is very difficult to treat and might even result in death. Do not easily fall a prey to this new man-made epidemic scare and overdose yourselves with chemical vitamin D. Let me recapitulate for easy remembrance.  
 
Future prediction of diseases and death by regular screening is one of the biggest myths in medicine. So you need not go for Vitamin D screening without any indications.  Even when you ARE vitamin D-deficient, avoid chemical vitamin D but go for sunlight instead. Metadichol can be used as a food supplement. 

User

COMMENTS

sundararaman gopalakrishnan

3 months ago

As usual, excellent article by Dr Hegde.Though moneylife is a financial magazine, i look forward to Dr Hegde's down to earth analysis that always makes sense!!

Ramesh Poapt

3 months ago

Excellent! Dr.Hegde. Pl let we have more such health articles,at least once
a week! Sir, want to know about edible oil-refined,filtered,physically refined like
rice bran. Is olive oil that good as it is acclaimed?Kindly advise.

Narendra Doshi

4 months ago

Dear Prof. Hegde,
How much of direct sunlight exposure is recommended, in say summer months, for a senior citizen? At what time & for what duration, you recommend? Will it change if the patient is diabetic?

A Sensitive Writer’s Concern with the Environment
To Amitav Ghosh, climate change is intensely personal and his own sudden experience of it has been so inexplicable that he hesitates to use it in his fictional writings, for fear of melodrama. Even now, while writing this work, he says, we are in enough self-denial and that The Great Derangement could only be written as non-fiction and may not have found acceptance as fiction.
His first personal experience was of an extreme weather event: a short, intensely devastating storm in which he could have been killed had he been in a slightly different place. It left him with a feeling of unreality. Although such an experience should have served him well as inspiration in his novels, the truth was too sensational for use in a modern novel with its need for realism. 
 

There is an increasing number of such, apparently stand-alone, events all over the world. There is a great reluctance to acknowledge that they are a direct result of our own activities and our extreme, sometimes misplaced, efforts to control our own environment. These efforts, he says, while providing a sense of control to humans for the first time in history, are, paradoxically, irreversibly changing the established processes on which we unconsciously depend for stability. Our environment is more uncontrollable than ever.
 
This book is an explanation of the collective sense of nonchalance with which people view climate change. It reflects how changes in fictional writing parallel people’s attitudes to real-life events and their need to control their own reality.
 
Ancient stories used uncertainty and melodrama to bring excitement. Classics, such as the Arabian Nights, used highly improbable events to tell stories which would capture the imagination. Non-human agencies, such as wild animals and extreme weather events, provide the unexpected and unpredictable twists and turns that fuel these melodramatic events. 
 
Non-human agents in novels are, often, based on ancient knowledge of real events. From Ghosh’s ancestral experience of life on the river banks, he tells the story of a forced migration due to changes in established patterns of a mighty river. His knowledge of the Sunderbans, a dense mangrove forest in Bengal, points to the intertwined fact and mythology of man-eating tigers: tragic and unpredictable events impacting nearly every family, which live on, in the tales of the region and in 19th century literature. The reference to the eyes of the tiger meeting the eyes of the human as it was about to attack, and the close bonding of the souls of attacker and attacked, tells of the inextricable nature of human life with its natural surroundings. 
 
In ancient times, he argues, man accepted that there were events and agencies beyond his control. He struggled to make sense of uncontrollable circumstances through story-telling of wildly improbable events, often founded on uncontrollable facts. The word ‘uncanny’ represents the meeting of unpredictable event and uncontrollable consequences. 
 
In the 19th and 20th centuries, however, humans began to assume greater control of their environment through rapidly escalating access to technology. Popular literature reflected changed attitudes by changing the acceptable form of the modern novel to reflect a highly controlled reality. For the first time, writings containing uncontrollable or less understood events were classified into genres such as fantasy, science fiction and Gothic novels. They were kept away from mainstream ‘serious’ literature.   
 
This change in literature reflected an important change in human consciousness and attitudes to our surroundings. Our own destructive behaviour contributes to more unpredictable events than ever before; this is illustrated in several different ways. Traditional settlements, away from the reach of powerful water bodies with unpredictable temperaments, have given way to settlements closer to the water’s edge in most major cities, assuming greater control of the forces of nature. Ghosh narrates examples of early miscalculations in building infrastructure in unsuitable locations such as a now-abandoned port in Bengal and recent extreme weather events in cities like New York and Mumbai. He also links the human aspiration to control Nature to the disastrous siting of the Fukushima nuclear plant in a vulnerable location. Such a location would have been barred by traditional knowledge of weather events such as tsunamis. 
 
These well-known examples indicate the tenacity of our need to assume control and inclination to see each such event as one-off. Ghosh reflects on the reluctance of human beings to acknowledge their own complicity in bringing about climate change events by escalating their attempts to control, while moving further on the path of danger. 
 
This leads directly to a change in our acknowledgement of the power of extra-human agencies to impact daily life. Melodrama in novels is complemented by the avoidance of melodrama in daily life and ‘extreme’ weather events are seen as something to be controlled or denied.
 
 
It is ironical, argues Ghosh, that the very control which humans are exerting over their environment, is leading us towards more uncontrollable extreme weather events and loss of communication with wild animals and forests. A greater need to exert control and denial of the out-of-control behaviour leads to a collective denial of climate change to the extent where even fictional writing blacks it out, in spite of increasing evidence of its reality and impact.
 
This is a very important book, bringing climate change into the writings of one of our most popular fiction authors. While acknowledging the impediments to integrating these concepts into his past fictional works, the author has indicated his wish to use it in his future fiction as a backdrop to the recent human experience of denied calamity and the continuing impact of non-human agencies. The settings of calamity in several locations of the world, especially India, provide ample backdrop for the stories of people impacted by these calamities. The Great Derangement indicates a change in Ghosh’s writings to include the reality of seemingly unreal events brought about by climate change. The present work is of immense value to bring the reality of climate change into the mainstream of human consciousness.

User

COMMENTS

Laxmi Lobo

4 months ago

An excellent review. Thanks for the insights.

Health Insurance: Group Insurance Continues To Inflict Losses
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