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Sun Exposure Increases Survival of Melanoma

Written by Van D. Merkle, DC, CCN, DABCI, DACBN   
Friday, 01 June 2007 00:00
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We’ve been told for many years that the sun is bad!  According to the Mayo Clinic, all forms of skin cancer have been on the rise. The greatest rise has been in melanoma, which is the most serious and most deadly type of skin cancer. Even with our sun-phobic, sunscreen-wearing society, the percentage of people with melanoma has more than doubled over the last 30 years.

In contradiction to the "typical" skin cancer prevention advice, the journal Cancer in March 2002, did an examination of 506 regions and 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 ultraviolet B. In a more recent study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute [February 2, 2005], 528 melanoma patients were assessed. It was found that self-reported skin awareness, high intermittent sun exposure, and even sunburn were all linked to improved survival from melanoma. Attempting to explain their findings, the authors note that sun exposure is essential for the skin to make vitamin D3. Vitamin D has anticancer properties and therefore could explain the beneficial association between sun exposure and survival from melanoma.

So, where does this leave our devotion to sunscreen? According to a researcher from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, sunscreen does not protect against melanoma.

However, interestingly enough, octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC), which is present in 90% of sunscreen brands, was found to kill mouse skin cells even at low doses in a study by Norwegian scientists. There are also many other chemicals in sunscreens to be concerned about.

According to the National Institute of Health, sunscreens with a sun protection factor of 8 or greater will block UV rays that produce vitamin D. Along with increased risk of cancer, Vitamin D deficiency is associated with weakened bones, osteoporosis in elderly individuals, in post-menopausal women, and in individuals on chronic steroid therapy; insulin deficiency and insulin resistance; progression of degenerative arthritis of the knee and hip; infertility; PMS; fatigue and depression; auto immune disorders; obesity; and Syndrome X.

We have been told the sun is bad and we should limit our sun exposure. So, we did as we always do…we went overboard. We slather on the sunscreen and we work indoors so much that we hardly get ANY full spectrum sun exposure. Another component to this puzzle is the attack on Vitamin Dsupplementation. So now, we’re not making vitamin D the way we should from the sun exposure and the fear stories in the media have us scared to take even 400IU of Vitamin D. This has obviously created a problem. It’s easy to blame everything on the sun when you don’t have good science. None of these studies on skin cancer even mention or consider high consumption of raw, fresh fruits and vegetables, antioxidant supplementation or consumption of good quality, natural fats.

In addition, look at all of the chemicals we are putting on our skin on a day-to-day basis. Read the ingredient labels on your skin care products and cosmetics. Take some time to find out what those ingredients are and any potential side effects they may have. I think you will be quite surprised and have some great ammunition to prevent skin cancer. If you are interested in findings good quality skin care products, refer to your local health food store or go online to www.allnaturalcosmetics.com