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Does Sunshine Actually Decrease Dangerous Melanoma Skin Cancers?

Recent research blaming sunlight exposure for the growing incidences of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has failed to consider crucial information that could turn the entire concept on its head, according to Dr. William Grant, an epidemiologist writing for the Vitamin D Council.

One important point the research missed was that sometimes sunscreen can actually increase your risk of melanoma, especially in the Northern Hemisphere.

There are other studies showing that chronic UV (ultraviolet) light exposure may actually reduce the risk of melanoma.

Sensible Sunlight is Protective Against Melanoma

Exposure to sunlight, particularly UVB, is protective against melanoma — or rather, the vitamin D your body produces in response to UVB radiation is protective. As written in The Lancet:

“Paradoxically, outdoor workers have a decreased risk of melanoma compared with indoor workers, suggesting that chronic sunlight exposure can have a protective effect.”

A study in Medical Hypothesesiii suggested that indoor workers may have increased rates of melanoma because they’re exposed to sunlight through windows, and only UVA light, unlike UVB, can pass through window glass. At the same time, these indoor workers, who get three to nine times less solar UV exposure than outdoor workers, are missing out on exposure to the beneficial UVB rays, and have lower levels of vitamin D. The study even noted that indoor UV actually breaks down vitamin D3 formed after outdoor UVB exposure, which would therefore make vitamin D3 deficiency and melanoma risk even worse. A number of associations between sun exposure and melanoma can be found in the medical literature, such as:

  • Occupational exposure, such as farmers and fishermen, and regular weekend sun exposure are associated with decreased risk of melanoma
  • Sun exposure appears to protect against melanoma on skin sites not exposed to sun light, and melanoma occurring on skin with large UV exposure has the best prognosis
  • Patients with the highest blood levels of vitamin D have thinner melanoma and better survival prognosis than those with the lowest vitamin D levels

Vitamin D Reduces Your Risk of Cancer

This is an important point, because if you are shunning the sun for fear of skin cancer, you are, ironically, missing out on one of the most potent natural cancer protections available. Vitamin D’s protective effect against cancer works in multiple ways, including:

  • Increasing the self-destruction of mutated cells (which, if allowed to replicate, could lead to cancer)
  • Reducing the spread and reproduction of cancer cells
  • Causing cells to become fully differentiated (cancer cells often lack differentiation)
  • Reducing the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, which is a step in the transition of dormant tumors turning cancerous

Similarly, in a review of the health effects of sun exposure, tanning beds and vitamin D, researchers again noted that the benefits of vitamin D production outweigh the potentially increased risk of melanoma.

“The overall health benefit of an improved vitamin D status may be more important than the possibly increased CMM [cutaneous malignant melanoma] risk resulting from carefully increasing UV exposure.”

Again, there’s compelling research showing that sun exposure will indeed protect you against melanoma, as a very low level of vitamin D is a major risk factor for this disease. This is, by the way, also a primary reason why using sunscreen every time you go outdoors may actually accelerate, rather than prevent, cancer.

United States Naval Observatory Sun Azimuth Table

The first day in Burnsville Minnesota that you can get Vitamin D from the sun is April 1st. The last day is September 9. You can google USNO sun azimuth table and go on the website to plug in any date and city to find out what time of day you can get Vitamin D from the sun. The sun has to be at 50 degrees in altitude for you skin to produce Vitamin D.

Remember, your skin will produce 10,000I.U. of Vitamin of in just 15 minutes of peak sun exposure. Do not wear sunscreen or you will block the Vitamin D production and thus lose all the benefit of the sun while still getting damage. I know, opposite of what is common knowledge and what the sunscreen commercials tell us. Wear sunscreen to prevent sunburn, but don’t slather your entire body or your kids bodies from morning til night. You will actually increase your risk of melanoma.

Here are a few dates from the azimuth table for Burnsville, MN that you can get Vitamin D from the sun:

  • April 1st 12:00-12:30 (1st day you can get Vitamin D from the sun)
  • May 1st 10:00AM- 2:10PM
  • June 1st 9:30AM-2:50PM
  • July 1st 9:40AM-3:00PM
  • Aug 1st 10:00AM-2:40-PM
  • Sept1 11:10AM-1:20PM
  • Sept 9 11:50AM-12:30PM (last day)

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