Sun Exposure Danger – Fact or Fiction?
"This sure clears up a lot of misconceptions
about Sun exposure...Great info!"
Most of us have been bombarded about the dangers of the sun by experts and the media. The cosmetics industry places sun screen products at the top of their list of recommended products. Why wouldn’t they? It’s a cash cow.
Unfortunately, the myths surrounding sun exposure have contributed to massive amounts of disease and illness in our society. Let’s start with skin cancer. Can sun exposure cause skin cancer? Absolutely. However, appropriate sunlight actually prevents skin cancer, (as well as other cancers as well). Exposure to the sun provides many benefits such as promoting the formation of vitamin D which aids in the prevention of a myriad of diseases.
The key is to never burn.
Although the American Academy of Dermatology will have you bathing in sunscreen, it is one of the LAST things you want to put on your body. It is a toxic chemical that can cause problems in your system. Even if it didn’t contribute to disease, the central issue is that it doesn’t even work.
So what is the cause of skin cancer and the deadly melanoma?
Most likely, it is the omega 6:3 oil ratio in your diet. A quote from Cancer Res 2000 Aug 1;60(15):4139-45 stated that "Epidemiological, experimental, and mechanistic data implicate omega-6 fat as stimulators and long-chain omega-3 fats as inhibitors of development and progression of a range of human cancers, including melanoma."
The prestigious National Academy of Sciences published a comprehensive review showing that the omega 6:3 ratio was the key to preventing skin cancer development. An Australian study done ten years ago showed a 40% reduction in melanoma for those who were eating fish. And this was without any attention to lowering omega-6 fats.
So, do we recommend you simply consume some healthy fats and go out and get as much sun as you would like?
You must exercise caution. At the beginning of the season go out gradually, perhaps as little as ten minutes a day. Progressively increase your time in the sun so that in a few weeks, you will be able to have normal sun exposure with little risk of skin cancer. Remember never to get burned, that is the key.
Remember also never to use sunscreen. You can creatively use your clothing to block the sun’s rays during your build-up time. The bottom line is, avoid getting sucked into the hype that sunlight is dangerous. It is only dangerous if you are clueless about fat nutrition. If you choose to ignore your omega 6:3 ratio and stay out of the sun, you could limit your risk of skin cancer - but is that worth the risk of getting MS, breast or prostate cancer (conditions that can result from lack of sun exposure)? Your choice.
Sunlight Actually Prevents Cancer:
Insufficient exposure to ultraviolet radiation may be an important risk factor for cancer in Western Europe and North America, according to a study published in the prominent Cancer Journal that directly contradicts official advice about sunlight.
The research examined cancer mortality in the United States. Deaths from a range of cancers of the reproductive and digestive systems were approximately twice as high in New England as in the southwest, despite a diet that varies little between regions.
An examination of 506 regions found a close inverse correlation between cancer mortality and levels of ultraviolet B light. The likeliest mechanism for a protective effect of sunlight is vitamin D, which is synthesized by the body in the presence of UV-B.
The study's author, Dr William Grant, says northern parts of the United States may be dark enough in winter that vitamin D synthesis shuts down completely.
While the study focused on white Americans, the same geographical trend affects black Americans, whose overall cancer rates are significantly higher. Darker skinned people require more sunlight to synthesize vitamin D.
There are 13 malignancies that show this inverse correlation, mostly reproductive and digestive cancers. The strongest inverse correlation is with breast, colon, and ovarian cancer.
Other cancers apparently affected by sunlight include tumors of the bladder, uterus, esophagus, rectum, and stomach.
The above information was originally published in the Cancer Journal, March 2002; 94:1867-75
Most people believe that sun exposure causes cancer. Nothing could be further from the truth. As the above study published in the prestigious Cancer journal indicates, exposure to sun actually decreases cancer rates. Does this mean that one's sun exposure does not contribute to skin cancer? Absolutely not. However, skin cancers are more likely related to the large distortion most people have in their omega-6 to omega-3 fat ratio. The high excess of omega-6 fats in most people's diet puts them at a much higher risk of developing skin cancer when exposed to excess sun.
So the solution is not to slather sun block on. Sun block can be quite toxic and should be avoided by most people. The sensible approach would be to limit sun exposure so you never get sun burned. It is sunburn in conjunction with excess omega-6 fats that increases your risk of skin cancer. But even with the potential increase in skin cancer, most skin cancers are relatively benign when compared with breast, colon, and prostate cancers that lack of sun exposure is associated with.
So you can't have it both ways. Avoid the sun and don't change your diet and you will lower your risk of skin cancer, but increase your risk of far more common and deadlier cancers. So why not change the fat content of your diet and use sensible sun exposure guidelines and reap the benefits of sunlight?
Breakthrough Updates You Need to Know on Vitamin D:
The compound we call vitamin D can no longer properly be considered a vitamin. For most mammals, it is not in any sense even a nutrient. Nevertheless, vitamin D resembles true vitamins inasmuch as humans - who are cut off from the critical solar ultraviolet wavelengths by reason of latitude, clothing, or shelter - depend on an external source of the substance, just as they do for the true essential nutrients.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D, calciferol, is a fat-soluble vitamin. It is found in food, but also can be made in your body after exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun. Vitamin D exists in several forms, each with a different activity. Some forms are relatively inactive in the body, and have limited ability to function as a vitamin. The liver and kidney help convert vitamin D to its active hormone form.
The major biologic function of vitamin D is to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium, helping to form and maintain strong bones. It promotes bone mineralization in concert with a number of other vitamins, minerals, and hormones.
Without vitamin D, bones can become thin, brittle, soft, or misshapen. Vitamin D prevents rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults, which are skeletal diseases that result in defects that weaken bones.
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Exposure to sunlight
Exposure to sunlight is an important source of vitamin D. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight trigger vitamin D synthesis in the skin.
Season, latitude, time of day, cloud cover, smog, and sunscreens affect UV ray exposure. For example, in Boston the average amount of sunlight is insufficient to produce significant vitamin D synthesis in the skin from November through February.
Sunscreens with a sun protection factor of 8 or greater will block UV rays that produce vitamin D.
Vitamin D supplements are often recommended for exclusively breast-fed infants because human milk may not contain adequate vitamin D.
It is estimated that over 25 million adults in the United States have, or are at risk of developing osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by fragile bones. It results in increased risk of bone fractures.
Rickets and osteomalacia were recognized as being caused by vitamin D deficiency 75 years ago; their prevention and cure with fish liver oil constituted one of the early triumphs of nutritional science. The requirement for vitamin D has been pegged to these disorders ever since.
Having normal storage levels of vitamin D in your body helps keep your bones strong and may help prevent osteoporosis in elderly, non-ambulatory individuals, in post-menopausal women, and in individuals on chronic steroid therapy.
Researchers know that normal bone is constantly being remodeled (broken down and rebuilt). During menopause, the balance between these two systems is upset, resulting in more bone being broken down than rebuilt.
Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with greater incidence of hip fractures. A greater vitamin D intake from diet and supplements has been associated with less bone loss in older women. Since bone loss increases the risk of fractures, vitamin D supplementation may help prevent fractures resulting from osteoporosis.
The use of vitamin D is well accepted, but the mere absence of clinical rickets can hardly be considered an adequate definition either of health or of vitamin D sufficiency.
The fact that it takes 30 or more years to manifest itself makes it no less a deficiency condition than a disorder that develops in 30 days. It is easy to understand how long-period deficiency diseases could never have been recognized in the early days of nutritional science, but with modern methods and a better grasp of the relevant physiology, failing to recognize a slowly developing condition as a true deficiency state, can no longer be justified.
Vitamin D nutrition probably affects major aspects of human health, as listed below, other than its classical role in mineral metabolism. The rest of the article addresses some of the newly recognized uses of vitamin D.
Today, it is well established that besides playing a crucial role in the establishment and maintenance of the calcium in the body, the active form of vitamin D also acts as an effective regulator of cell growth and differentiation in a number of different cell types, including cancer cells.
Laboratory, animal, and epidemiologic evidence suggest that vitamin D may be protective against some cancers. Clinical studies now show vitamin D deficiency to be associated with four of the most common cancers: Breast, Prostate, Colon and Skin.
Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with insulin deficiency and insulin resistance. In fact, last year it was shown that vitamin D deficiency is likely to be a major factor for the development of type one diabetes in children.
Insulin resistance is also one of the major factors not only leading to the cancers mentioned above, but also to the number one killer in the US, heart disease. Northern countries have higher levels of heart disease and more heart attacks occur in the winter months.
Progression of degenerative arthritis of the knee and hip is faster in people with lower vitamin D concentrations.
Infertility and PMS
Infertility is associated with low vitamin D, and PMS has been completely reversed by addition of calcium, magnesium and vitamin D.
Fatigue, Depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder
Activated vitamin D in the adrenal gland regulates tyrosine hydroxylase, the rate limiting enzyme necessary for the production of dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine.
Low vitamin D may contribute to chronic fatigue and depression. Seasonal Affective Disorder has been treated successfully with vitamin D. In a recent study covering 30 days of treatment comparing Vitamin D and 2 hour daily use of 'light boxes', depression completely resolved in the D group, but not in the light box group.
Multiple Sclerosis, Sjogren's Syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroiditis and Crohn's disease have all been linked with low vitamin D levels.
Single, infrequent, intense, skin exposure to UV-B light suppresses the immune system and causes harm.
However chronic low-level exposure normalizes immune function and enhances immune cell production. This reduces abnormal inflammatory responses such as found in autoimmune disorders, and reducing occurrences of infectious disease.
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked with obesity. Vitamin D has recently been shown to lower leptin secretion. Leptin is a hormone produced by fat cells and is involved in weight regulation. It is thought that the hormone signals the brain when fat cells are "full," but exactly how the hormone controls weight is not entirely clear.
Additionally, obesity by itself probably further worsens vitamin D deficiency due to the decreased bioavailability of vitamin D from skin and dietary sources, because of its being deposited in body fat.
Vitamin D deficiency has been clearly linked with Syndrome X. Syndrome X refers specifically to a group of health problems that can include insulin resistance (the inability to properly deal with dietary carbohydrates and sugars), abnormal blood fats (such as elevated cholesterol and triglycerides), overweight, and high blood pressure.
In a recently published exploratory study, mortality from multiple sclerosis (MS) was found to be reduced by exposure to sunlight. Depending on the degree of sunlight exposure, the risk of death from MS was reduced by up to 76%. No theory on the precise mechanism of action in this reduction was proposed by the authors.
Vitamin D and Steroids
Steroids, like prednisone, are often prescribed to reduce inflammation from a variety of medical problems. These medicines may be essential for a person's medical treatment, but they have potential side effects, including decreased calcium absorption.
There is some evidence that steroids may also impair vitamin D metabolism, further contributing to the loss of bone and development of osteoporosis associated with steroid medications. For these reasons, individuals on chronic steroid therapy should consult with their physician or registered dietitian about the need to increase vitamin D intake through diet and/or dietary supplements.
Some key points to remember
The vitamin D in milk, and that put in most vitamins is vitamin D2 and is synthetic. Vitamin D2 is also called ergocalciferol. It is not the vitamin D that you want to supplement with. It is not nearly as good as the vitamin D obtained from sunlight or natural food sources like cod liver oil which is called vitamin D3 or calciferol.
The best place to get vitamin D is from UV-B from sunlight. However, darker skinned people require 10 to 20 times the sun exposure length than lighter skinned people do to build up the same amount of vitamin D.
That is one of the major reasons why African Americans have a much higher rate of cancer in North America than other ethnic groups.
Most people, who have skin that is deeply pigmented, should take extra precautions when living in North America for health reasons. The only work around for them to maintain their health would be to optimize their vitamin D levels.
It is also very important to realize that the RDA of vitamin D of 400 units is absolutely inadequate for most people who do not have exposure to regular sunshine. Most people may need up to 10,000 units per day for a short time to build their vitamin D levels up to healthy ranges.
One must be very clear however that this should only be done under supervision with a health care professional who can monitor vitamin D levels. Vitamin D in excessive doses can be quite dangerous as it can cause calcium to deposit in your soft tissues and kidney and this is not easy to turn around.
The above information was edited from the
National Institutes of Health Document on Vitamin D
We’ve been asked numerous times, "Are you going to make a sunscreen?" Our answer; Not in the foreseeable future. We've done a lot of research into sunscreens. We have a stack of scientific documentation two inches high. The bottom line is this: it looks like no sunscreens are safe. According to our research, sunscreens give users a false sense of security in that, while they effectively prevent sunburn, they do nothing to prevent skin cancer or accelerated aging of the skin.
What's even worse is the fact that both chemical sunscreens (methoxycinnamate, padimate-o and the like) and physical sunblocks (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide) generate free radicals when exposed to sunlight, which then can attack the nuclei of your skin cells and cause mutations. That's right: they can cause skin cancer. Furthermore, sunscreen chemicals have been found to pass through the skin and mimic the effects of estrogen, which may disrupt the delicate balance of the body's natural hormones.
Titanium dioxide is now being used as a new treatment for window glass because it attacks and degrades anything that touches it, thereby helping to keep windows clean. You probably don't want to have anything attacking your skin!
Our recommendation: Start using a quality essential fatty acid supplement, eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of water, loose-fitting clothing, big hats and shady trees. Yes, we could make money with an organic lotion with titanium oxide in it. But we like to be able to sleep at night
Years ago, there was a news story about a guy who owned a fleet of cement-mixer trucks that supplied concrete for road construction in his area. He was also active in community affairs and won all sorts of citizenship awards. Then some financial analyst noticed that the community devoted an unusually large proportion of its budget to roadwork. It turned out that the man routinely overloaded his trucks. The trucks cracked the roads they traveled on, which guaranteed his company a steady stream of business. An elegant scam.
We think about that guy every spring when the Skin Cancer Foundation (SCF) makes its annual appeal to the public to use sunscreen. As people heed their warning this year, few will remember the following report. According to epidemiologist Marianne Berwick of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, there is no evidence that sunscreen offers any real protection against malignant melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. "It's not safe to rely on sunscreen," Berwick told the press.
The SCF promptly refuted her findings in a press release, telling consumers that "sunscreen should continue to be an integral part of a comprehensive program" to prevent melanoma. That's what most people will likely hear from their dermatologists as well. What they won't learn is that dermatologists get much of their information from the SCF, and the SCF, in turn, is heavily supported by the sunscreen industry. (A sunscreen manufacturer even funded SCF's quarterly consumer publication, "Sun and Skin News.") No wonder the foundation doesn't give much credence to the growing number of studies showing that even so-called broad-spectrum sunscreen doesn't prevent melanoma. Like the road-destroying trucks that guaranteed work for the concrete company, rising melanoma rates scare people into using more sunscreen.
Sunscreen may actually contribute to skin cancer. It prolongs people's time in the sun by preventing the only natural melanoma warning system human skin has — sunburn. Melanoma rates are rising about 6 percent each year, and sunscreen sales are continuing to climb.
Sunscreen makers and the SCF have engaged in a cynical sleight of hand by claiming that sunscreen helps prevent skin cancer. There are three main kinds of skin cancer: basal cell, squamous cell, and malignant melanoma. The first two are common (about 1 million cases a year) and almost always medically minor. The American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute don't even count them in the nation's cancer statistics. Melanoma is much less common (40,300 diagnoses last year), but often fatal (7,300 deaths).
Basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer are caused primarily by UV-B light, the kind that causes sunburn, and there's credible evidence that sunscreen helps prevent those two types of cancer. The Food and Drug Administration's SPF (or sun protection factor) rating program measures UV-B protection. But most sunscreens do not offer protection against UV-A, the harmful, longer-wavelength UV light. UV-A penetrates right through the outer skin and through sunscreen, down to the melanocytes, the cells that become cancerous in melanoma cases. In one study that proved this point, researchers at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York, induced melanoma in fish by exposing them to both UV-B and UV-A sunlight. They concluded: "Sunscreens effective in the UV-B region...would not protect against melanoma."
But when people hear the term skin cancer, they think melanoma. That's because when sunscreen labels claim that the product can protect people from skin cancer, consumers don't differentiate melanoma from basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers.
Until around 1950, melanoma was rare. Then its incidence increased slowly until the mid-1960s, when it accelerated into the current epidemic. The standard, pro-sunscreen explanation is that, like lung cancer, the disease has a long lag time, on the order of 20 years. Americans began sunbathing in earnest in the 1950s, and as a result, the melanoma epidemic hit in the 1970s. But even a cursory look at the history of sunbathing washes this explanation away faster than a sand castle in a hurricane. Ask any elderly person you know. Beaches around the country were jammed on summer weekends in the 1930s. Why didn't a melanoma epidemic hit the Depression generation 20 years later? Why did it take until the mid-1970s for the epidemic to strike? Sunscreen promoters offer no clue.
Meanwhile, ever since the melanoma rate began soaring, health authorities have exhorted us to use sunscreen. Americans have clearly taken this advice to heart. Sales figures jumped from $18 million in 1972 to $500 million in 1996. If melanoma has a 20-year lag time and sunscreen is protective, the melanoma rate should have started to level off by now. Instead, it's climbing. In 1980, an American's lifetime melanoma risk was 1 in 250. Today, it's 1 in 84.
Now take a closer look at the presumption that melanoma has a long lag time. The research indicates that the lag time could be as low as two years. Lung cancer, heart disease, and other conditions with long lag times are diagnosed at a steady rate year-round. Summer brings no more diagnoses than winter because over, say, 20 years, seasonal distinctions blur. Melanoma diagnoses, on the other hand, do reflect seasonality. At least five studies of melanoma (in Hawaii, the continental U.S., Sweden, Norway, and England and Wales) all agree that melanoma diagnoses follow a seasonal pattern, showing up at a considerably higher rate in summer than in winter. Seasonality is a hallmark of biological events with short lag times.
Given that melanoma was rare until 1950, and that melanoma may have a lag time of only two to five years, then something about our relationship with UV light must have changed a few years before the melanoma rate began inching up in the early 1950s.
Consider sunscreen. It was first introduced in the early 1940s as tanning lotion. The idea was that if you could stay in the sun without burning, you'd tan. A few years later, the melanoma rate began to rise. Improved tanning lotions came on the market in the early 1960s, and a few years after that, the melanoma rate zoomed up. Public health authorities became concerned, and melanoma became news. Seeing a commercial opportunity, the makers of tanning lotions repositioned their products as "sunscreen," and the now familiar sermonizing began. Since then, melanoma has become the nation's fastest-rising cancer and sunscreen sales have continued to climb. Ozone depletion may play a role in the higher melanoma rate, as some scientists say, but melanoma cases began to go up long before ozone depletion became an issue.
In recent years, it's become clear that to prevent melanoma, sunscreen must do more than block UV-B rays—it must also protect against UV-A. As a result, sunscreen makers have tinkered with their formulas, & now most claim that their products provide broad-spectrum UV-A & UV-B coverage. Sounds good, but it's actually another sleight of hand on the part of sunscreen manufacturers. Only one ingredient, avobenzone, is "clearly proven" to block UV-A sunlight, & according to FDA spokeswoman Ivy Kupec, the FDA doesn't require its inclusion in sunscreens in order for manufacturers to claim that their products offer broad-spectrum protection. Kupec added that manufacturers "could still say [their product] protects against UV-A, because they can do it until we tell them not to." So much for regulatory protection.
Even if sunscreen blocked UV-A completely, almost no one uses it in the way that grants real protection against sunburn. For sunscreen to live up to its hype, you have to slop it on real thick and reapply it every few hours. We're talking at least one full bottle per person per day at the beach. Meanwhile, the vast majority of sunscreen users apply a thin layer once or twice.
The only proven way to prevent melanoma is to cover up. Our fore bearers did so in the days before sunscreen. Clearly it worked because melanoma was so rare. It's also what people now do in Australia. White Australians come largely from light-skinned British/Irish stock. Queensland province, in northeastern Australia, has the highest melanoma rate in the world, but as the SCF proudly pointed out when it rebutted Berwick's study, melanoma rates there have started to flatten. What the SCF did not mention is that while the Queensland public health authorities began a big-budget PR campaign promoting sunscreen in 1981, they shifted the campaign's focus a few years ago to strongly encourage people to cover up and stay in the shade.
The Skin Cancer Foundation does acknowledge that sunscreen alone is not enough. You need to wear protective clothing (pricey new fabrics such as Solumbra apparently block both UV-A and UV-B, but a wide hat and long, lightweight summer clothing should suffice), and spend more time in the shade. If you're a beach lover, invest in a sun umbrella. But think twice before you slap on sunscreen. Some cement mixers destroy the roads we're told they build. And some products may contribute to the cancer we're told they prevent.
"I always felt that the Sun was good for my health...
Thanks for the info!"
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