Contrary to popular belief, exposing skin to the sun may stop certain cancers from growing, including skin cancer.
While previous studies have implied this protection comes from skin cells (damaged by the sun) committing suicide, cutting the risk of cancer, two studies propose the reduced cancer risk stems from an increased production of vitamin D made by sun-exposed skin.
The two studies found:
Sunshine helped beat the deadly skin cancer malignant melanoma: Melanoma patients with increased levels of sun exposure were less likely to die than other melanoma patients; also patients who already had melanoma and a lot of sun exposure were prone to a less aggressive tumor type.
The sun helped with non-Hodgkin lymphoma: The risks of developing cancer was reduced by 30 percent to 40 percent when exposed to UV rays from the sun and sun lamps; findings were based on interviews with more than 3,000 lymphoma patients and 3,000 healthy members of the public.
Despite findings, experts do not promote extremely high levels of sun exposure, as too much sun could also cause cancer. Therefore, it is important to remember to cover up during peak sunshine hours, seek shade and wear factor 15-plus sunscreen.
BBC News February 1, 2005
Dr. Mercola's Comment:
One of the most persistent health myths circulating is health "experts" and the media preaching the dangers of sun exposure to your health. Unfortunately, this long-standing recommendation of avoiding sun exposure has increased cancer deaths, not just non-fatal skin cancers, by more than 50,000 per year in the United States due to lowered vitamin D levels.
That is why I was glad to see that more physicians are starting to appreciate that maintaining optimal vitamin D levels -- by having them tested -- is one of the most important things you can do to prevent and treat not only skin but all cancers. Receiving appropriate amounts of sunshine that optimizes vitamin D levels is the key, as it keeps your cell growth and activity in proper balance.
Obtaining Vitamin D
The safest way to obtain vitamin D is, of course, through appropriate sun exposure. Yet many of us are not able to do that in the winter, and some of us prefer to stay indoors (or work indoors) in the summer. For those who struggle with getting enough exposure, taking a high-quality cod liver oil, which contains vitamin D, is one reasonable alternative, and more important than any supplement because it is an essential food.
When choosing your cod liver oil, be sure to choose a brand that has been purified of mercury and other toxins, and has the independent laboratory testing to prove it. You will also want to make certain that it has more than insignificant quantities of vitamin E. Most manufacturers put only enough vitamin E to prevent the omega-3 fats from being oxidized while in the bottle, but once you swallow the liquid you will need about 10 times as many vitamin E as most manufacturers put in their formulas. You could easily compensate for this by taking some extra vitamin E, but Carlson fish and cod liver oils is one of the few brands that put the extra vitamin E in right from the get go.
You will likely find Carlson's cod liver oil in your local health food store. They may even have some other good brands to recommend to you. But if you are unable to locate a high-quality brand locally, for your convenience we offer Carlson's cod liver oil in our store.
When Exposing Your Skin, Do So With Caution
While exposure to sunlight can reduce your risk of cancer, please understand that sunlight has the potential to cause skin cancer if you are not careful.
Therefore, at the beginning of the season, go out gradually and limit your exposure to perhaps as little as 5-10 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. If you are really sensitive you can start by exposing only your feet and progressively more skin on your legs and then your arms. More details on this are available in my absolute favorite book on this topic The Healing Sun.
And remember to never get burned, that is the key. However, using sunscreen is not a good way to limit your sun exposure either. In fact, sunscreen is generally one of the last things you want to put on your body. That is because it is a toxic chemical that can cause problems in your system and increase your risk of disease. I must admit that I occasionally violate this principle. I usually spend most of January in Maui to recharge my batteries as I absolutely love the sunshine and surf there. I love to body board and am typically in the water for a few hours a day. So I will use a waterproof sunblock around my eyes to limit my UV exposure as there really aren't many practical alternatives if I am out between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. But most of the time I am able to stay out of the water from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
You can also creatively use your clothing to block the sun's rays during your exposure time with the use of hats and long sleeve shirts and pants or simply stay in the shade once you have reached your dose. Complete avoidance of the sun is nearly a guarantee that you will suffer health complications in the future.
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