Contrary to popular belief, Sunlight may help Prevent Cancer

Insufficient exposure to ultraviolet radiation may be an important risk factor for cancer in Western Europe and North America, according to a new 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. 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. Cancer March 2002; 94:1867-75

In recent years we’ve all been trained to fear the sun, due to the threat of skin cancer. Now there is a growing belief that exposure to the sun may not actually cause skin cancer. Either way, the fear of skin cancer shouldn’t keep you huddled indoors in the dark. According to Dr. William C. Douglass, you can reap the sun’s healthy benefits with as little as 20 minutes of exposure a day.

The UV advantageHowever, 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.

Sunlight Exposure Beneficial In Multiple Sclerosis
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. Occup Environ Med 2000;57:418-421

Why the Myth of the Sun Causing Skin Cancer Can Hurt Your Health

A recent study in the prominent US dermatology journal tell us that only a small fraction of US schools have implemented policies that protect students from over-exposure to the sun, and few provide shade, sunscreen, or other ways to avoid ultraviolet rays. Since severe sunburns occur during childhood, which may promote melanoma later, these experts recommend that policymakers and school administrators encourage and implement sun protection policies at schools nationwide. The authors of this study recommend that schools without a sun protection policy adopt one, and at least implement minor changes that could help shield students from the sun, such as allowing staff to put sunscreen on students, and permitting hats and sunglasses when outdoors. Archives of Dermatology June 2002;138:771-774

Sun Exposure (UVB) Protects Against 16 Types of Cancer – The new study links UVB as protective to a total of 16 types of cancer, primarily epithelial (pertaining to the surface) cancers of the digestive and reproductive systems [Grant, submitted]. Six types of cancer (breast, colon, endometrial, esophageal, ovarian, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma) were inversely correlated to solar UVB radiation and rural residence in combination. This result strongly suggests that living in an urban environment is associated with reduced UVB exposure compared to living in a rural environment.

Another 10 types of cancer including bladder, gallbladder, gastric, pancreatic, prostate, rectal and renal were inversely correlated with UVB but not urban residence. Ten types of cancer were significantly correlated with smoking, six types with alcohol, and seven types with Hispanic heritage. Poverty status was inversely correlated with seven types of cancer. Since the results for alcohol, Hispanic heritage, and smoking for white Americans agree well with the literature [Trapido et al., 1995; Thun et al., 2002], they provide a high level of confidence in the approach and its results for UVB radiation

In a televised interview, Dr. Lorraine Day, MD, reported that rats fed a healthy diet developed no cases of skin cancer when exposed to the sun, while 25% of those fed the standard american did develop cancerous lesions. The difference between the two diets is likely to be the quality of the fats, as will be come more apparent shortly.

A study published electronically this week in the International Journal of Cancer used a novel approach to examine the relation between solar ultraviolet-B (UVB) irradiance, vitamin D, and cancer risk reduction. In this study, mortality rates for non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC), which is primarily due to squamous cell carcinoma, were used as the index of integrated lifetime solar UVB irradiance. NMSC mortality rates provide higher confidence regarding the population exposure to solar UVB than geographic location of residence, which has been used in such studies in the past. Thus, locations with a larger fraction of the population having outdoor occupations, such as farming, will have higher NMSC mortality rates. In addition, lung cancer mortality rate was used as the index for the adverse health effects of smoking.

Robert Bazell, Chief MSNBC Science & Health Correspondent – “About three decades ago, dermatologists alarmed at the rising incidence of skin cancer began a campaign to get people to stop spending so much time in the sun, or at least to cover up with strong sunblock lotion if they did. The effort was enormously successful. Now there is a big problem with it. When the sun’s rays (unfiltered by lotion) strike our skin, our bodies produce vitamin D. Scientists always knew vitamin D is critical for good health. Children not exposed enough to the sun can get a terrible disease called rickets. But around 1989 scientists began to discover that vitamin D played an important critical role in all the cells in the body, and they hypothesized that a lack of vitamin D could increase the risks for cancer.

Large population studies have now verified that people with low vitamin D levels indeed have higher levels of several common types of cancer, including colon and breast. Some of the best research comes from the Nurse’s Health Study and the Health Professionals Study — two efforts run by the Harvard School of Public Health that have been following tens of thousands of people for decades. The latest study looks at cancer incidence in men.

So how much vitamin D do we need?

Based on these latest studies, experts now recommend a minimum of 1,000 units a day. We get about 200 from food and supplements usually contain 400. That is where the sun comes in. No one is saying people should get sunburned or even tan. But you can get 1,000 units of vitamin D by spending 10 minutes in the sun in the middle of the day with your arms and face exposed. Amazingly, with our automobile and indoor lifestyle many Americans do not get even that much.”