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The Sunshine Vitamin’s Champion

Michael Holick is honored by the Linus Pauling Institute

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It appears that Michael Holick, a School of Medicine professor of medicine, physiology, and biophysics, has offered children around the world an argument against having to apply sunscreen. But what he really is doing is excellent science.

Last week, Holick was awarded the $50,000 Linus Pauling Institute Prize for Health Research. His investigational work shows that vitamin D deficiency can be caused by lack of exposure to sunlight, in part because of sunblock. Sometimes called “the sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D is vital for prevention of disease, including cancer, autoimmune diseases, and infectious and cardiovascular disease.

Because sunblock is a protection against certain types of skin cancer, Holick was first criticized for sounding the alarm about vitamin D deficiency being partly attributable to sunscreen, but is now being honored for bringing a national problem to public attention.

The prize is named after two-time Nobel laureate Linus Pauling, founder of the Linus Pauling Institute and a pioneer in the role of vitamins and micronutrients in promoting health and preventing disease.

Anna Webster can be reached at annaweb@bu.edu.

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