Solarscape News

Could Sunlight prevent Cancer?


Science strongly supports regular, non-burning sun exposure.


How often we have seen it - public health policies over-reacting to a trend, and then - after the science sorts things out, doing an about-face & returning to a moderate, common-sense position.

If you've been following the sunshine-vitamin D story closely in the past five years, you're seeing it again. Sunshine - vilified by a downright zealous dermatology & sun screen community for 20 solid years - suddenly appears to be the key ingredient in what could be the biggest cancer prevention policy change in modern times.

It all centers on vitamin D - the nutrient aptly named "the sunshine vitamin." Suddenly the good news about sunshine is everywhere, & the vitamin D community is bursting at the seams trying to tell this story: Healthy vitamin D levels are being associated with lower risks of several forms of cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis and other diseases. And it looks like you can't get high vitamin D levels through diet alone.
Good day, sunshine!

Scientists have known for decades that vitamin D is the catalyst that allows the body to process calcium, necessary for strong bones. Current vitamin D intake recommendations are based solely on this outcome - developed decades ago based on the amount of vitamin D in one teaspoon of Cod Liver Oil. That amount, it was determined, prevented the bone deformity rickets.

With the early 20th century problem of rickets put aside, vitamin D research slid quietly into the background for nearly half a century. A relatively cheap pharmaceutical item - and totally free when derived naturally from sunlight - nobody had any serious financial stake in vitamin D, so interest in research almost completely dried up. Almost. but not totally - thankfully. The vitamin D resurrection hit high gear in two landmark international conferences in Canada in the spring of 2006 - in Toronto in March and British Columbia in April. At the spring conferences members of the growing worldwide vitamin D research community made their most credible substantial case to date. Armed with hundreds of studies and papers written in the past decade - which as recently as five years ago garnered little attention in the scientific community - vitamin D advocates took centre stage by underscoring the following findings:


  • Because of the northerly latitudes and relatively weak sun exposure, most Canadians and most Americans living north of Atlanta are either vitamin D deficient or are at risk for vitamin D deficiency.
  • The recommended daily intake of vitamin D for Americans and Canadians long set at 200-400 international units (IU) is woefully inadequate. The most aggressive researchers are pushing for levels from 1,000 IU to 10,000 IU - more consistent with levels one would receive naturally by exposing skin to sunlight.
  • Old concerns about vitamin D toxicity associated with higher levels of supplementation may be wildly overstated - a finding that, if validated, would pave the way for higher supplementation recommendations.
  • At higher levels, it may be impossible to achieve proper vitamin D fortification through diet & supplements alone - a possibility suggested by both vitamin D researchers and dietary science specialists. This barrier has since made it necessary for public health officials to recognize that sensible sun exposure has to be part of the equation, or the public risks vitamin D deficiency.
  • Old public health suggestions that people only need 5-10 minutes of sun exposure to their hands and arms to make vitamin D may be far from accurate. For a fair-skinned individual it may take 10-15 minutes of full-body sun exposure to make sufficient vitamin D, and that time period may increase up to 10-fold for a person with dark skin.
  • More research is needed, but it seems clear that old-guard recommendations regarding vitamin D fortification and sun avoidance are no longer on solid ground. (Ref:Real Magazine - USA)


No doubt about it: Your body makes Vitamin D naturally when it is exposed to the sun. But how do you do this without damaging your skin? Practice sunburn prevention - not total sun avoidance. Sun screens should be used only to prevent sunburn - not over used as year-round daily use products. Doing so isn't natural and it almost completely blocks your body from making any Vitamin D. If you want to get real, bring your sun-safety practices back to the centre. Enjoy the sun with intelligent moderation.


He Dared to Challenge the Dogma
"Tanned skin protects you against sunburn," says vitamin D pioneer Dr. Michael Holick, who was demonized by the dermatology community after he wrote the consumer book - The UV Advantage (see related story). "If you avoid getting sunburned, the benefits of moderate sun exposure will far outweigh the possible dangers." Holick, who has published a few hundred academic papers in his 35 year vitamin D career, has long argued that the public message about sunshine needs to come back to centre - back to intelligent moderation. With more researchers catching on and stepping up, he is being vindicated. As are the University of California-San Diego vitamin D research duo Dr. Cedric F. & Dr. Frank C. Garland - brothers who bravely proclaimed in the 1980s that sun exposure, which produces vitamin D naturally in humans, appeared to prevent colon cancer. The 1980's research community - drunk with its purely negative message about sunlight - dismissed the Garlands as renegades without much analysis. But the Garlands are back, penning a landmark paper with 226 separate research citations in the February 2006 American Journal of Public Health. The paper vindicates their earlier work in a big way. The Garlands reviewed a total of 63 observational studies that have ever examined the role vitamin D might play in protecting against colon, breast, prostrate and ovarian cancers.


As it turns out:

  • COLON CANCER; 20 of 30 studies conducted to date have found a statistically significant benefit of vitamin D or sun exposure on cancer risk or mortality.
  • BREAST CANCER; Of 13 studies ever conducted, nine reported a favourable association of vitamin D or sun exposure on cancer risk.
  • PROSTATE CANCER; Of 26 studies, 13 found a statistically significant association of vitamin D or sun exposure on cancer risk.
  • OVARIAN CANCER; Five of seven studies found higher mortality associated with lower regional sunlight or lower vitamin D intake.


And this isn't just a correlation with no explanation anymore. The chemical mechanisms by which vitamin D and its metabolites regulate cell growth are now fully understood. Most of this understanding has evolved in recent years - 149 of the 226 studies cited in this new paper have been published in the last 10 years, with much of the key work coming in the past five years.
These results, coupled with the now-understood mechanisms by which vitamin D prevents cancer cells from growing and spreading, are the icing on the vitamin D cake. This research can no longer be ignored or dismissed.


The Guru - Dr. Michael Holick
Boston University vitamin D guru Dr. Michael Holick spent 35 years as a vitamin D pioneer and is one of the world's most published researchers on this topic. A professor of medicine, physiology, biophysics and dermatology, Holick penned a consumer book called The UV Advantage in 2003 to tell the natural vitamin D story.  Shortly thereafter, Dr. Barbara Gilchrest chair of Dermatology at Boston University, asked Holick to resign his dermatology post, calling his work "schlock science."  Holick stepped down, not wanting to be in a department that didn't want him.  But nobody's calling Holick's work "schlock" anymore. With the vitamin D community mobilized and bolstered as it is today, dermatologists are going to have to re-think their schlock position of total sun-avoidance.

See for more on Holick's Book (Ref:Real Magazine - USA)


What's causing white spots?

  • If you're seeing 'white spots' on exposed skin after tanning, one of these common conditions may be the cause:
  • Pressure Points: Your position on the tanning bed may create pressure on an area of the body - mainly shoulder blades, tail bone area, and backs of calves - restricting blood flow and preventing tanning.
  • Tinea Versicolor: A fungus originating on the scalp that falls on the upper body and results in small spots, also called "sun spots," that won't tan.
  • Vitiligo: Areas that do not produce melanin, usually an irregularly shaped patch of pale skin surrounded by skin that tans normally .  See your physician for proper diagnosis.

Help extend the life of your tan!

We all want to maintain our tan and youth as long as possible - Australian Gold moisturisers will help keep your skin looking firm, smooth and golden. Great for everyone - Forever After 24 Hour moisturiser and Tan Extender (with Hemp, Plus Triple Action Anti-Aging and Slimming Formula with body contouring blend).  Moisture intense extracts and pure botanical actives - condition, balance and restore  the skin's hydration.

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Derms say their message is Failing
ONE OF THE DERMATOLOGY industry's main lobbying groups is reporting that sun screen usage declined 12% in 2005 - despite their over-the-top efforts to trumpet the importance of using sun screen. It's true. The Sun Safety Alliance - a coalition representing the pharmaceutical manufacturers & distributors of consumer sun screen products - reported this fall that overall sun screen usage slipped from 72% to 60% in 2005. An August article in Dermatology Times quoted several prominent dermatologists - a media - seeking group we'll call "derma-lobbyists"- who expressed utter confusion over this statistic. "This simple prevention message appears to have FALLEN ON DEAF EARS." - New York derma-lobbyist - DR. JAMES SPENCER "Despite everything we're doing, we're losing ground."- DR. DARREL RIGEL, president & founder of the Skin Cancer Foundation.

"There's almost a militant disregard for our advice. The militancy on both the kids' & parents' parts is absolutely shocking." - DR. JOEL SCHLESSINGER, Omaha dermatologist & cosmetic surgeon.

Could the problem be that derma-lobbyists have overstated their case to the non-tanning public - asking them to wear sun screen 365 days a year - and that the non-tanning public is tired of hearing an over-blown message that the sun is as dangerous as cigarettes?
The public reaction is a backlash to an overstated message.  That should be the default explanation - the first & most reasonable objective conclusion.  But it's not one that derma-lobbyists are considering or are even discussing as a possibility.  Instead, they are talking about doubling their efforts - yelling even louder.  They will continue to tell the public that there aren't benefits to being in the sun & that they should be getting their vitamin D from pharmaceutical products.

BOTTOM LINE: If you want more people to use sun screen, tell them the whole truth about what they are blocking & when they should block it.  Overstate the truth, & you lose your credibility with your audience.
(Ref:Tanning Trends Magazine)


NATURAL MEDICINE GURU Dr. Joseph Mercola has dermatologists in his sites, blaming them for obscuring the picture on the important role regular sun exposure plays in human health.  "The American Academy of Dermatology is one deluded group of irresponsible physicians.  They have nearly single-handedly chosen to ignore the mountain of evidence that is briefly addressed below"


He continues, "The group has been the driving force at convincing other physicians and the American public that exposure to the sun is dangerous, should be avoided if at all possible and when that's not possible you should slather sun screen all over your body.  If they ever wake up they will have a hard time living with themselves as they have been directly responsible for the deaths of 50,000 Americans EVERY year who pass away from common cancers like breast & prostate because their vitamin D levels were too low.

Yes vitamin D deficiency, from too little sun exposure, not from oral doses, is the single most common vitamin deficiency in the United States. Over 85% of the U.S. population has sub-therapeutic blood levels that will predispose them to the diseases mentioned below.  In their efforts to reduce deadly skin cancers like melanoma, they are throwing the baby out with the bath water & causing far more problems than they are solving."


Mercola's theory: An overabundance of fatty foods in our diet predisposes us to melanoma more so than any factor related to sun exposure. He continues, "Fortunately, you don't have to be confused or deceived by their seriously misguided recommendations.  You can start to reap the benefits of common sense exposure to regular doses of sunshine & radically decrease your risk of cancer & other illnesses.  Your body was designed to regularly be exposed to sunshine & when you limit or avoid the sun you will start to suffer health problems.  Vitamin D deficiency is one of the primary ones, but there are many others, & a large number of them have not even been discovered yet.  Good, old-fashioned common sense tells you that it is beneficial to have some healthy sun exposure."

Diseases linked to Vitamin D deficiency include: Heart disease, cancer, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis & osteoporosis.


"All Truth Goes Through Three Stages," Mercola writes on his popular web site,, "First it is ridiculed. Then it is violently opposed.  Finally, it is accepted as self-evident." Vitamin D deficiency is somewhere-in-between.

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