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To be part of the Safe-D study is simple. You have to be female, aged between 16 – 25 years and living in Victoria. For more information check out the Safe-D Facebook page, visit http://www.safedstudy.org or phone 0481 012 023.

Up to 50 per cent of women aged between 16 – 25 years may be putting themselves at risk of chronic illness and disease because of their lack of sun exposure.

Today, clinicians and medical researchers from The Royal Melbourne Hospital and the University of Melbourne will launch the Southern Hemisphere’s largest vitamin D study for young women – Safe-D.

The study aims to recruit more than 450 females aged between 16 – 25 years to find out how much sun is needed to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D naturally without exposing them to the dangers of excess ultra-violet rays.

The Royal Melbourne Hospital’s Head of Bone and Mineral Medicine and Professor of the Faculty of Medicine at The University of Melbourne, John Wark, said vitamin D is an essential nutrient for everyone, young and old.

“Vitamin D is necessary for strong bones, muscles and overall health. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun is the best natural source of vitamin D, but it is also the main risk factor for skin cancer and premature ageing of the skin,” Professor Wark said.

“A balanced approach to sunlight exposure can help you avoid vitamin D deficiency, which has been linked to many chronic health conditions such as poor bone and muscle health, cardiovascular disease, some cancers and adverse mental health conditions to name only a few”.

“In Australia, musculoskeletal disorders cause more disability than any other group of medical conditions, costing the economy $9.15 billion a year . This is why we are focusing on young women in the hope that we can intervene early, preventing potential ill-health, economic loss and premature death.”

It is hoped the research findings will lead to the production of better education policies, and strategies to safely improve vitamin D status and wellbeing of young Australian women.

The Safe-D study has been mainly funded by a research grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

The study is being conducted by a team of researchers and health professionals from various institutions including The Royal Melbourne Hospital, The University of Melbourne, The Royal Women’s Hospital and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

Professor Wark added it was currently recommended that Australians with moderately fair skin expose their arms for 6 -7 minutes mid morning or mid afternoon during summer/spring or up to 30 minutes during winter outdoors to maintain adequate vitamin D level.

“It’s about a little bit of safe sun exposure each day. This will help you have healthy bones, a healthy mind and a healthy body for a long and happy life,” Professor Wark added.
 
To be part of the Safe-D study is simple. You have to be female, aged between 16 – 25 years and living in Victoria. For more information check out the Safe-D Facebook page, visit http://www.safedstudy.org or phone 0481 012 023.