Summer is coming to an end, but the warnings from dermatologists in our country never seem to let up. They keep reminding us to slather on sunscreen before going outside. They’re afraid we’ll get skin cancer. But the evidence supporting their claim is weak at best. In fact, their advice could be the exact opposite of what you should be doing, particularly during this time of year.
In a recent study, Chinese scientists remind us that exposure to sunlight is actually protective against cancer. These researchers looked at cancer mortality data in a sample of 263 counties in China from 1990 to 1992. They also evaluated the country's national cancer registration data from 1998 to 2002 to estimate cancer incidence.
The researchers found that mortality rates from major cancers in these areas inversely correlated with sun exposure. In other words, the more sun they had, the less cancer they had. But it wasn’t just skin cancer they looked at. It was also true for cancer in general, particularly cancers of the esophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, and cervix.
So why is the sun so protective against cancer? According to the researchers, the reason is very simple – vitamin D. The more sunshine you get, the more vitamin D your body creates. And vitamin D is a known cancer preventive.
Obviously, sunshine is vital for good health. The more you get without burning, the better. The researchers suggest moderate exposure to UVB rays to get enough sunlight to make enough protective vitamin D. As the days shorten, it’s even more important to spend time outdoors to keep your vitamin D levels up. Once the weather turns cold, you’ll likely limit your time outdoors.
Fortunately, your body stores vitamin D efficiently. So storing it up in the fall can help during the winter months. But spending time in the sun isn’t all you should do. Other studies show the sun won’t provide all the vitamin D you need to battle cancer and other disease. You’ll need to take a supplement to stay healthy. Most people need to take 5,000 IU daily. You can order a 5,000 IU tablet by following this link.
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Don’t let all the media hype confuse you. I think you’ll find in time that mild to moderate sun exposure is protective, and just sunburns increase the risk of skin cancer.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand
The Sunlight Research Forum. ""Modern Lifestyle" Cancer Vulnerability Hits China." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 16 Aug. 2012. Web. 17 Aug. 2012. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/249113.php>