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Compelling Evidence that Avoiding the Sun is Dangerous
Results of a recent study released in June of 2014 in The Independent (United Kingdom) showed that women who avoid the sun during summer as twice as likely to die as those who enjoy the sun every day.
This study, done at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, followed more than 30,000 women for more than 20 years and showed compelling evidence that the mortality rate was double for women who avoided sun exposure.
Researchers came to the logical conclusion that the conventional advice of avoiding the sun at all costs and putting on tons of sunscreen is actually doing us more harm than good.
This is because avoiding the sun, combined with sunscreen use, and blocks the body’s natural ability to make vitamin D3 from the sun, absolutely the best form of vitamin D for the body.
Vitamin D deficiency is at almost epidemic levels in the US. It’s interesting to note that, ironically, a deficiency in vitamin D can lead to very aggressive forms of skin cancer. Cancer Prevention Research published a study in 2011 that stated that having optimal blood levels of vitamin D offer the best protection against skin cancer and sunburns.
Vitamin D can also protect the body from a variety of illnesses including rickets, tuberculosis, IBD, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. In fact, researchers at the University of Alabama recently stated that a lack of exposure to the sun might even lead to cognitive decline over a period of time.
One of the world’s leading experts on skin cancer, the sun, sunscreens, and melanoma skin cancer risks, doctor Bernard Ackerman, MD (deceased 2008) released an article to the New York Times in July of 2004 where he stated that the link between developing deadly melanoma and overexposure to sunlight was completely unproven. He stated at that time that there was no conclusive evidence that even getting serious burns would lead to skin cancer and no proof that sunscreens protect the body from melanoma and that there was no proof that being exposed to the sun increased the risk of melanoma.
He also cited a Swedish study done in 2000 that concluded that there were higher rates of melanoma in those who used sunscreen compared to those who did not.
A California based scientist and author, Elizabeth Plourde, PhD, states that malignant melanoma, as well as all other skin cancers, dramatically increased with the use of sunscreens over the past 30 years. She points out that many sunscreens contain toxic chemicals, even chemicals that are known carcinogens. She also states in her book how sunscreen chemicals have polluted out water sources and that testing shows that as much as 97 percent of Americans have sunscreen chemicals in their blood.
While sunlight may increase the risk of certain types of skin cancer, what is much less publicized is that going without it can greatly increase your risk of other illnesses.
About 50,000 people every year will be diagnosed with either basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer. These are highly treatable and are rarely, if ever, life threatening. Melanoma, on the other hand, makes up for about 10 percent of all skin cancers. If not caught early, it is generally fatal. Much of the information regarding limiting one’s exposure to the sun has been directed at reducing melanoma. There was a recent study released which showed that sunburns in early childhood increased the risk of developing melanoma later on.
But the link between sunlight and melanoma isn’t as clear as you might think. Studies show that habitual exposure to the sun can actually cause the skin to make its own self-protective mechanisms against it. Also, melanoma often forms on body parts that don’t tend to receive much sunlight, such as the soles of the feet.
The balance of evidence strongly suggests that in order to avoid melanoma, it’s important to protect your skin from very intense sun, or sunburns early in life, but just how much protection is not quite clear.
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Also, the advice we have been given regarding sunscreen is also open to question as at least two recent studies have shown that using sunscreen is associated with an increased risk of melanoma.
Studies show that just a 10 percent reduction in exposure to sunlight leads to an increased risk of breast cancer by as much as 10 percent and as much as a 12 percent increase in colon cancer.
In light of all these different types of advice and conflicting reports, perhaps it’s best to suggest that we avoid the sun when it’s at its strongest by staying in the shade, staying indoors, or wearing protective clothing, rather than sunscreen.
The time has come to recognize that while it’s probably a good thing to avoid excessive exposure to the sun and avoiding serious sunburns, the sun has many health giving compounds to give our bodies. So it’s good bye sunscreen, good day sunshine!