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Of mice and men (or women): Sunlight reduces breast cancer beyond the effects of vitamin D. Another reason to embrace the sun.

Marc Sorenson, EdD, for breast cancer prevention. Prevent breast cancer with sunlight!

While many doctors know that ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from sunlight reduces risk of breast cancer, they have missed something. UVR stimulates production of vitamin D in human skin. Therefore, many health professionals assume that vitamin D is responsible for the reduced cancer risk. This may lead them to advocate the use of vitamin D supplementation and totally miss the bigger picture. In addition to vitamin D, UVR from sunlight or sunlamps produces many supplementary healthful photoproducts. Among others, nitric oxide, serotonin, endorphin and BDNF are produced by sunlight, and these photoproducts are vital to health. And, it is likely that these healthful photoproducts lead to an inhibition of breast cancer.

New research shows that sun exposure per se is capable of reducing the risk of breast cancer.

Consequently, it should not surprise us that for breast cancer, sunlight’s effects go beyond vitamin D.[1] Researchers at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, used a murine model (mice) that easily develops breast cancer, and treated them with UVR. Much as we might expect, they found that UVR treatments produced significant anti-cancer effects. Furthermore, they found that neither dietary vitamin D nor topical vitamin D influenced cancer risk. Because of their findings, they stated the following: “UVR’s inhibitory effects occur irrespective of whether or not the treatment increases circulating D3 in the mice.” Also, they made one more important comment regarding their research on breast cancer and UVR. “Therefore, supplemental D3 may not mimic all possible beneficial effects of UVR, and uncovering non-D3-mediated mechanisms of UVR tumor inhibition may lead to novel strategies for cancer prevention.”

An important point about vitamin D, sunlight and breast cancer.

Finally, there is no doubt that vitamin D has anticancer benefits. This research however, is especially relevant in that it corroborates what I have said in my soon-to-be-released book, Embrace the Sun. First of all, we must not put all of the benefits of sunlight in the vitamin D box. Secondly, sun exposure performs myriad miracles beyond vitamin D. One of those miracles may be breast cancer prevention and inhibition.  Thirdly, if we erroneously believe that we can obtain all of the sun’s benefits from popping a vitamin D pill, we may miss the holistic effects of the sun, which provide a cornucopia of salubrious results.

So, safely (without burning) embrace the sun and ease your mind about breast cancer.

[1] Anastasia M. Makarova, Flora Frascari, Parastoo Davari, Farzam Gorouhi, Philip Dutt, Lynn Wang, Akash Dhawan, Grace Wang, Jeffrey E. Green, Ervin H. Epstein, Jr. Ultraviolet radiation inhibits mammary carcinogenesis in an ER negative murine model by a mechanism independent of vitamin D3. Downloaded from cancerpreventionresearch.aacrjournals.org on April 12, 2018.

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Protect your gut! Low levels of sunlight exposure may predispose to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which will be accompanied by increased fracture risk.

Marc Sorenson, EdD

What is IBD?

First of all, IBD consists of two primary diseases, ulcerative colitis (UC) Prevent IBD with sunlightand Crohn’s disease (CD). UC is a chronic inflammatory condition characterized by relapsing and remitting episodes of inflammation limited to the mucosal layer of the colon.[1] Crohn’s disease, however, can involve any part of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus. Yet, it most commonly affects the small intestine or the colon, or both.[2]

The gift of sunlight

First of all, there is a beautiful gift that may prevent or lessen IBD. The gift, (sunlight) awaits us, but if we do not accept the gift, we are no better off than if we didn’t have it. So it is in Italy, where those who suffer from IBD are shown to have far less sun exposure than those who do not have the disease.[3] Therefore, this may indicate that part of the cause of IBD is lack of sunlight. And in Italy, low sun exposure probably indicates a reluctance to step outside because, Italy is a sunny country. Maybe, many of the Italians who succumb to IBD, have obviously not accepted the gift. Either that, or they are using too much sunscreen, since sunscreen blocks the sun.

Furthermore, IBD patients are at an increased risk for fractures. Hence, one may conclude that both maladies may be due to low sun exposure.

Embrace the sun to prevent IBD

Another investigation, conducted over 12 years and involving hundreds of thousands of IBD patients produced remarkable outcomes. Hospitalizations for both UC and CD were far higher among those with low sun exposure.[4] And, the same relationship was shown between sun exposure, bowel surgeries and deaths: more surgeries were needed for those patients who experienced the lowest sun exposure. Also, more deaths occurred among those with low exposure.

And what about non-IBD patients?

Another side note to this investigation was the large number of non-IBD patients analyzed for sun exposure levels. It is most noteworthy that the same relationship existed as with the IBD patients. Low sun exposure associated with prolonged hospitalizations and more deaths when compared with high exposure. Especially relevant is other research involving the association of Crohn’s disease to surgery. It found that surgery for the disease was significantly reduced among patients who received more sun exposure.[5]

The north-south gradient

In addition, research shows that in the US, there is a north-south gradient for IBD risk.[6], [7], [8], [9]   The risk of developing the disease is significantly lower in southern latitudes (because sun exposure is greater).

An important nutritional note about IBD:

In addition to what we have heretofore described, it is especially relevant to understand that IBD causes malabsorption of nutrients in the gut. Consequently, it leads to diseases of malnutrition.[10] And, vitamin D is one of the “nutrients” that may not be absorbed efficiently. Therefore, sun exposure (or sunlamps) may be the only viable source of vitamin D for a person with IBD.

Most of all, remember that non-burning sun exposure is essential to human health. It seems like a good idea to obtain your share, and protect your gut from IBD.

[1] Peppercorn M, Cheifetz, A, Rutgeerts P, Grover S. Definition, epidemiology, and risk factors in inflammatory bowel disease. http://www.uptodate.com/contents/definition-epidemiology-and-risk-factors-in-inflammatory-bowel-disease.

[2] Web MD http://www.webmd.com/ibd-crohns-disease/crohns-disease/inflammatory-bowel-syndrome.

[3] Vernia P, Burrelli Scotti G, Dei Giudici A, Chiappini A, Cannizzaro S, Afferri MT, de Carolis A. Inadequate sunlight exposure in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. J Dig Dis. 2018 Jan;19(1):8-14

[4] Limketkai BN, Bayless TM, Brant SR, Hutfless SM. Lower regional and temporal ultraviolet exposure is associated with increased rates and severity of inflammatory bowel disease hospitalization. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2014 Sep;40(5):508-17.

 [5] Govani SM, Higgins PD, Stidham RW, Montain SJ, Waljee AK. Increased ultraviolet light exposure is associated with reduced risk of inpatient surgery among patients with Crohn’s disease. J Crohns Colitis. 2015 ;9(1):77-81

[6] Schultz M, Butt AG. Is the north to south gradient in inflammatory bowel disease a global phenomenon? Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2012 Aug;6(4):445-7.

[7] Kappelman MD, Rifas-Shiman SL, Kleinman K, Ollendorf D, Bousvaros A, Grand RJ, Finkelstein JA. The prevalence and geographic distribution of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis in the United States. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2007 Dec;5(12):1424-9.

[8] Sonnenberg A. Similar geographic variations of mortality and hospitalization associated with IBD and Clostridium difficile colitis. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2010 Mar;16(3):487-93.

[9] Holmes EA, Xiang F, Lucas RM. Variation in incidence of pediatric Crohn’s disease in relation to latitude and ambient ultraviolet radiation: a systematic review and analysis. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2015 ;21(4):809-17

[10] Margulies SL, Kurian D, Elliott MS, Han Z. Vitamin D deficiency in patients with intestinal malabsorption syndromes–think in and outside the gut. J Dig Dis. 2015 Nov;16(11):617-33.

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The magnificent sun, UV, and what they do for our bodies and minds. Embrace the Sun!

Health benefits of UV by Marc Sorenson, Ed.D.

How important is UV? Sunlight. UV heart and mindA transcendentally important scientific paper, by Dr. AT Slominski and colleagues, has added significant information about UV (sunlight) for skin. In addition, it explains the intricate connection between sunlight and the immune, endocrine and central nervous systems.[1] The name of the research paper, published in the journal Endocrinology, is How ultraviolet light touches the brain and endocrine system through skin, and why. The authors begin the abstract by stating that “the skin is a self-regulating protective barrier organ that is empowered with sensory and computing capabilities to counteract the environmental stressors to maintain/restore disrupted cutaneous homeostasis.” In other words, the skin has the ability to take on what life deals it and maintain its equilibrium and balance. In addition, the skin communicates bidirectionally with the central nervous, endocrine and immune systems. Thus, it helps to maintain balance for all body systems.

How does UV work?

First of all, ultraviolet energy (UV and UVB light) triggers all of these marvelous processes. UV, of course is available from sunlight, sunbeds or sunlamps. Its electromagnetic energy, through the skin, converts to chemical, hormonal and neural signals. These signals promote positive effects on the immune system, the endocrine system and the brain. Furthermore, endorphins (opioid-like substances) are increased and immune-system proteins are mobilized; consequently, health improves with UV. And, sun exposure regulates the endocrine system, by way of exposure to the skin, to produce or diminish hormones as needed. Especially relevant is that these effects take place independently of vitamin D synthesis.

Health increases with UV due to the magnificent sun, and our magnificent skin. As a result of the above information, it seems like it would be a good idea to soak up some non-burning sun each day when available. And, when it is not, we should find another UV source. In our soon-to-be-published book, Embrace the Sun, we discuss many facts about the healthful effects sun exposure:

A few healthful effects of sun (UV) exposure

  • prevents and reverses obesity
  • Improves longevity by reducing the risk of death by 50% over 20 years
  • reduces the risk of hip fracture by 90% when compared to sun avoidance
  • prevents the risk of breast cancer by 90% when compared to sun avoidance
  • reduces by 50% the risk of melanoma in outdoor workers compared with indoor workers
  • increases heart and vascular strength
  • dramatically improves mood
  • reduces the risk of multiple sclerosis
  • reduces risk of most internal cancers
  • cures psoriasis and eczema
  • reduces risk of nervous system disorders
  • prevents memory loss
  • prevents myopia

The above list is not surprising in view of this new research, nor is the list complete. UV has many more healthful effects, which I’m sure the authors of this research acknowledge. Hence, the scientists sum up their research in this manner: “Thus, UV touches the brain and central neuroendocrine system to reset body homeostasis. This invites multiple therapeutic applications of UV radiation, for example in the management of autoimmune and mood disorders, addiction, and obesity.”

In conclusion, this seem like more compelling evidence to safely embrace the sun, no?

[1] Slominski AT, Zmijewski MA, Plonka PM, Szaflarski JP, Paus R. How ultraviolet light touches the brain and endocrine system through skin, and why. Endocrinology. 2018 Mar 12. [Epub ahead of print]

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Superbugs, sunlight, sanitoria and infectious diseases

sanatoria

The superbugs are among us. Should we return to the use of sanatoria?  

By Marc Sorenson, EdD

First of all, one should know that sanatoria are secluded hospitals. In addition, they usually specialize in healing through good food, fresh air and sunlight. Some scientists are now suggesting that we reestablish the use of sanatoria for healing.[1] They feel that sanatoria may be just the answer we seek for the prevention and healing of infectious diseases.

Interestingly, sanatoria were used effectively in the early 20th century (before antibiotics) and were really large outdoor solariums (sunrooms). These facilities allowed patients to be in natural surroundings, and in some cases, to expose themselves to direct sunlight. To demonstrate the efficacy of these facilities in curing tuberculosis (TB), consider the following history of Dr. Aguste Rollier:

Should we use sanatoria for healing TB?

First of all, records of 1,129 TB cases showed solariums cured 87% of “closed cases” and 76% of “open cases. “Among 158 patients with tuberculosis of the hip, 125 were cured and 102 “regained complete recovery of articular function.”[2] Dr. Rollier also had other successes. “During a time just following World War I, 1,746 of 2,167 tubercular patients under his care completely recovered. Furthermore, the only failures were among those who had allowed their tuberculosis to enter its most advanced stages.”[3]

Superbugs arrive from Peru.

In 2009, the first case of drug-resistant TB arrived in the US from Peru.[4] It was nearly 100% resistant to antibiotics. Consequently, it could cause an immense killer epidemic with the return of TB. There seems to be no answer to the “superbug” causing it. Or is there an answer? Could the sun provide a solution to this health threat? The superbugs are upon us like a bad horror movie. When they start to take over the earth, there will be few cures. But, UV light from the sun, or sun lamps, are remedies that still exist. Therefore, we would be well-advised to have our defenses set up in advance by enjoying daily sun exposure.

Another more recent historical perspective regarding sanatoria and sun exposure.

I recently happened across research that should be of interest to those who love the Sun. It gave a historical perspective of TB in the city of Bern, Switzerland. In addition, it showed how Bern wiped out most of its TB problems. Especially relevant is the fact that the city used lifestyle changes, not drugs. And, those changes included greater access to sun exposure.[5] The authors studied TB incidence during the period from 1856-1950. There were three areas of the city assessed for their historical TB problems. One was known as the Black Quarter, where during 1911-1915 there were 550 cases of TB per 100,000 people. The second was the City Center with 327 cases per 100,000 people. The third area was the Outskirts, with 209 cases per 100,000 people. There were three living conditions correlating closely to TB:

  1. The number of persons per room. A higher number predicted a greater risk of TB.
  2. A greater number of rooms without sunlight predicted a greater risk of TB.
  3. A greater number of windows per apartment predicted a diminished risk of TB

Consequently, the country worked to address these problems by reducing room crowding, providing open-air schools and building sanatoria. As a result, TB risk dropped from 330 cases per 100,000 in 1856 to 33 per 100,000 in 1950—a 90% drop! Also, I expect that health care cost dramatically decreased.

With the superbugs gaining strength each year, maybe we should reestablish the use of sanatoria?

Another thought: sun exposure probably works as well with many other diseases as it does with TB. Hence, the day may come when sanatoria, especially solariums, may be the only choice for curing infections. Finally, why not sunbathe daily in a non-burning fashion? In addition, sunlamps (in the absence of sunny days) could be valuable to the the health, because they also produce some of the same types of healing light (UVB and UBA) as the sun. Safely and regularly embrace the sun to protect your health!

[1] Greenhalgh I, Butler AR. Sanatoria revisited. Sunlight and health. J R Coll Physicians Edinb. 2017;47(3):276-280.

[2] Clark, W. Treatment of Bone and joint tuberculosis with Tuberculin and Heliotherapy. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery 1923;5:721-39.

[3] Fielder, J. Heliotherapy: the principles & practice of sunbathing. Soil and Health Library (online) http://www.soilandhealth.org/index.html

[4] http://www.sphere.com/nation/article/first-case-of-highly-drug-resistant-tuberculosis-in-US/19294836?icid=main|htmlws-main-n|dl1|link3|http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sphere.com%2Fnation%2Farticle%2Ffirst-case-of-highly-drug-resistant-tuberculosis-in-US%2F19294836

[5] Zürcher K, Ballif M, Zwahlen M, Rieder HL, Egger M, Fenner L. Tuberculosis Mortality and Living Conditions in Bern, Switzerland, 1856-1950. PLoS One. 2016  16;11(2):e0149195

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Pregnant Moms, Sun Deprivation and obese Children

Obesity: Do vitamin D and sunlight have a part? A new study shows thatSun exposure for pregnant mom important for children to prevent obesity when vitamin D-deficient pregnant women bear children, the children may become obese.[1] Furthermore, the children had larger waistlines at age 6, compared with children born to women who had sufficient vitamin D levels. The body-fat percentage of those born to vitamin D- deficient women was also significantly higher. Body fat-percentage is a measure of obesity (or lack thereof).

The authors stated that 95% of vitamin D production in the body comes from sun exposure to skin. That is correct. Consequently, the expectant mothers spend too much time indoors. Or, they are frightened into sunscreen use, which can prevent production of 99% of vitamin D by sun exposure. Therefore, this type of obesity is a sun-deprivation disease. The research suggested that vitamin D supplements might be the answer. However, the answer is not supplements when sunlight is available. We should promote safe, non-burning sun exposure to prevent obesity.

Much has been researched lately regarding the importance of sunlight in preventing obesity. In my last blog, I mentioned several of these studies:  http://sunlightinstitute.org/staying-slim-sunlight/

Here is a list of the methods by which sun exposure helps to prevent or reverse obesity:

  • First of all, because blue-spectrum light causes cells to dump part of their fat load, it helps weight-control
  • Secondly, early-morning light, because it resets circadian rhythms, reduces the risk of weight-gain.
  • Thirdly, exposure to ultraviolet radiation (one of the spectrums in sun exposure) has been shown to impressively reduce weight gain in mice on a high-fat diet. Especially relevant is the fact that vitamin D levels made no difference in the weight of the animals.

In conclusion, non-burning sun exposure is vitally important to human health. If you would like to have a fat content that is less than others, be sure to obtain your share or sunshine and make weight-control for you and your children much easier!

[1] V. Daraki, T. Roumeliotaki, G. Chalkiadaki, M. Katrinaki, M. Karachaliou , V. Leventakou, M. Vafeiadi, K. Sarri, M. Vassilaki, S. Papavasiliou, M. Kogevinas and L. Chatzi. Low maternal vitamin D status in pregnancy increases the risk of childhood obesity. Pediatric Obesity Pediatr Obes. 2018 Jan 28. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.12267. [Epub ahead of print]

Obesity: Do vitamin D and sunlight have a part? A new study shows that when vitamin D deficient pregnant women bear children, the children may become obese.[1] Furthermore, the children had larger waistlines at age 6, compared with children born to women who had sufficient vitamin D levels. The body-fat percentage of those born to vitamin D- deficient women was also significantly higher. Body fat-percentage is a measure of obesity (or lack thereof).

How is vitamin D produced?

The authors stated that 95% of vitamin D production in the body comes from sun exposure to skin. That is correct. Consequently, the expectant mothers spend too much time indoors. Or, they are frightened into sunscreen use, which can prevent production of 99% of vitamin D by sun exposure. Therefore, this type of obesity is a sun-deprivation disease. The research suggested that vitamin D supplements might be the answer. However, the answer is not supplements when sunlight is available. We should promote safe, non-burning sun exposure to prevent obesity.

Are there other studies regarding sunlight and obesity?

Much has been researched lately regarding the importance of sunlight in preventing obesity. In my last blog, I mentioned several of these studies:  http://sunlightinstitute.org/staying-slim-sunlight/

Here is a list of the methods by which sun exposure helps to prevent or reverse obesity:

  • First of all, because blue-spectrum light causes cells to dump part of their fat load, it helps weight-control
  • Secondly, early-morning light, because it resets circadian rhythms, reduces the risk of weight-gain.
  • Thirdly, exposure to ultraviolet radiation (one of the spectrums in sun exposure) has been shown to impressively reduce weight gain in mice on a high-fat diet. Especially relevant is the fact that vitamin D levels made no difference in the weight of the animals.

In conclusion, non-burning sun exposure is vitally important to human health. If you would like to have a fat content that is less than others, be sure to obtain your share or sunshine and make weight-control for you and your children much easier!

[1] V. Daraki, T. Roumeliotaki, G. Chalkiadaki, M. Katrinaki, M. Karachaliou , V. Leventakou, M. Vafeiadi, K. Sarri, M. Vassilaki, S. Papavasiliou, M. Kogevinas and L. Chatzi. Low maternal vitamin D status in pregnancy increases the risk of childhood obesity. Pediatric Obesity Pediatr Obes. 2018 Jan 28. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.12267. [Epub ahead of print]

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Sunbeds for bats? Yes, really.

A bat needs sunbeds?Should a bat sunbathe?

Last summer, while my friends and I were about to enter Lehman Caves, located in Nevada’s Great Basin National Park. A park ranger asked asked us if any of us had been in other caves anywhere in the U.S. The ranger said that although Lehman Caves had not yet been effected, there was a rapidly-spreading disease, suffered by cave-dwelling bats, which was decimating the bat population across the country. A fungus caused the disease that turned the bats’ noses white. Hence, it was accurately called “white nose syndrome.” None of our group had been in any caves in the recent past and therefore were pronounced clean. We then had a wonderful tour through a spectacular cave.

Sunbeds for bats?

This experience made a memorable impact on me. I recently discovered, to my surprise, that white-nose syndrome could be stopped by using sunbeds—bat sunbeds that is.[1] A spectrum of light emitted from both sunlight and sunbeds (UVB). UVB causes tanning and is also capable of damaging the DNA of the fungi that cause the disease, thereby destroying them. So, the treatment is to fit the bats’ cave entrances with UVB lamps.  Researchers from the University of Wisconsin suggested this idea.

Sunbeds are anti-fungal.

Furthermore, this is not the first research to point out the anti-fungal nature of UVB light. Research has shown that sunlight may be good for decontaminating socks and feet, much as it decontaminates our bat friends. Scientists tested socks infected with the fungus causing tinea pedis (“athlete’s foot”), a chronic skin disease. The objective of the research was “to evaluate the effectivity of sun exposure in reducing fungal contamination in used clothing.” Fifty-two socks, proven by fungal culture to be contaminated by patients with tinea pedis, were studied. The samples were divided into two groups: Group A underwent sun exposure for 3 consecutive days. Group B remained indoors. Fungal cultures were performed at the end of each day.[2] It is most noteworthy that elimination of the fungal cultures was significant in the sun-exposure group, but not the indoor group.

When I was young, my mother washed our clothing and hung it on a clothesline. It had full exposure to sunlight. I won’t forget how fresh the clothing (including the socks) smelled after ward. I expect that as a result, any fungi or bacteria were eliminated, along with the resultant odor. Had the clothing remained inside it would have likely become malodorous.

In conclusion, the message is that both we and the bats can benefit from exposure to UVB light. It is especially relevant that bats are a vitally important part of the ecosystem; therefore we should protect them any way we can. Sun exposure and sunbed exposure, when used in a safe, non-burning manner, will help both the health and the environment. Safely embrace the sun!

[1] http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/bats-white-nose-syndrome-uv-treatment-fungus-1.4515314.

[2] Amichai B, Grunwald M, Davidovici B, Shemer A. Sun as a disinfectant. Isr Med Assoc J. 2014 Jul;16(7):431-3.

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Staying slim with Sunlight

Stay slim with sun exposure? Sun exposure. Use to be slim!New, never considered research adds a reason to stay active in the sun:[1] The blue-light spectrum of sunlight, a spectrum that can penetrate the skin, can cause subdermal fat tissue to decrease in size. In other words, it can cause fat loss. Thus, the action of sunlight may help one to stay slim or become slim. The researchers showed that daily exposure of differentiated adipocytes [fat cells] to blue light resulted in decreased lipid droplet size and increased basal lipolytic [fat breakdown] rate.

The researchers had been doing research on light and diabetes, and they serendipitously found that the light could be an asset in maintaining (or producing) a slim body. But there are many other studies that show sun exposure is capable of assisting the body in being slim. For example: here is another benefit of sun exposure—morning sun specifically: A recent study from Northwestern Medicine demonstrates that timing and intensity of light correlate with body mass index (BMI).[2] BMI is a numerical computation comparing height and weight, and is a commonly used method to assess obesity or the lack thereof. A high BMI usually means a person is obese or at least approaching obesity, while optimal BMI is 18-25. Below 18 is considered underweight, above 25 is overweight, 30 is obese and 40 and above is morbidly obese. However, BMI does not work for heavily-muscled people, who may have minimal fat, but whose BMI puts them in an obese category—in reality, they are very slim.

This study showed that exposure to bright morning light was directly related to BMI. After adjusting for confounders such as diet, exercise and timing of sleep, it was determined that very early exposure to morning light correlated remarkably to lower BMI—they were slim, or at least slimmer. Even when light intensity was equal at different times of the day, those who received the earliest bright light had lower BMI. Most noteworthy was the fact that for each hour later in the day when light exposure occurred, BMI increased by 1.3 units. This fact is especially relevant, since a person who has a BMI of 25 (upper ideal range) could approach 30 (obesity), over time, due to the habit of receiving sun exposure later in the day, e.g. 10:00 AM rather than 6:00 AM.

The authors suggested that the mechanisms by which early light exposure could influence the “slim” mechanisms, could be the following: (1) resetting the circadian rhythm (internal clock), (2) the greater quantity of blue light in morning sun and (3) effects on melatonin production. Whatever the mechanisms, we now know that early-morning sun is important to being slim. In addition, it may also be important to other health issues. Rather than think of sun exposure as the cure-all for obesity, we must realize that poor nutritional habits and lack of exercise are much more important. Nevertheless, sun exposure can furnish one more arrow in the quiver.

Sun exposure is far superior to vitamin D supplements in preventing weight gain.

Another scientific paper “sheds more light” on the subject of being slim.[3] This research was conducted on mice with shaved backs that were placed on a high-fat diet and then exposed to non-burning ultraviolet radiation (UVR) during a three-month experiment. The mice, without the benefit of UVR, would have been expected to gain weight rapidly, but when they were exposed to UVR, the weight gain was impressively reduced. Furthermore, the UVR treatment achieved 30-40% less weight gain, compared to the expected weight gain with the high-fat diet. So, not only can sun exposure produce slim humans, it can help to produce slim rats.

Other benefits for the rats included: significant reductions in glucose intolerance, insulin resistance and fasting insulin levels (all markers and predictors of diabetes), nonalcoholic fatty liver disease measures and cholesterol. All of these factors, including obesity, are part of a cluster of maladies known as the metabolic syndrome, or MetS, which is indicative of deteriorating health and susceptibility to heart disease and diabetes. Finally, almost all people who have the aforementioned indications of MetS have a large problem maintaining slim bodies. Not a surprise, eh?

Other interesting findings:

Supplementation with vitamin D actually reduced the aforementioned beneficial effects. Dr. Shelley Gorman, one of the authors, made the following three interesting observations:[4]

  1. “These findings were independent of circulating vitamin D and could not be mimicked by vitamin D supplementation.”
  2.  “It looked like the presence of vitamin D in mice on the high fat diet prevented the [beneficial] effect of UV radiation on weight gain.”
  3. She also mentioned the mechanism of weight loss may be dependent on nitric oxide (NO), which originates from diet and can be mobilized by UV radiation to become bioactive. This was due to the fact that in another part of the experiment, skin induction of nitric oxide (NO)—also a product of skin exposure to sun—reproduced many of the positive effects of UVR, something vitamin D supplements could not do.

The Authors conclusions:

The authors concluded their research thusly: These studies suggest UVR (sun exposure) may be an effective means of suppressing the development of obesity and MetS, through mechanisms independent of vitamin D but dependent on other UVR-induced mediators such as NO.”

It has been suggested that since low 25(OH)D levels correlate to obesity, those low levels are a possible cause of obesity. However, vitamin D is stored in fat tissue. Therefore, an increase in fat will lower the quantity of 25(OH)D circulating in the blood. Hence, low vitamin D is a consequence of obesity, and not the cause.[5]

Research continues to mount about the positive effects of sun exposure, independent of vitamin D production. This should in no way be construed to diminish the vital importance of vitamin D. Rather, it is to make a point that sun exposure works in many ways, including stimulating the production of vitamin D, NO, serotonin and endorphins. Why should we be satisfied with any one of these marvelous health aids when the sun is available? Because, with sun exposure, we can enjoy the benefits of the entire package.

So, being slim is dependent on a series of choices: avoiding junk food, eating large quantities of vegetables and fruits, taking a daily walk or engaging in other aerobic exercise, weight training and, finally, soaking up some daily, non-burning sunlight.

In conclusion: Stay slim, my friends.

[1] Katarina Ondrusova, Mohammad Fatehi , Amy Barr, Zofa Czarnecka, Wentong Long, Kunimasa Suzuki, Scott Campbell, Koenraad Philippaert, Matthew Hubert, Edward Tredget, Peter Kwan, Nicolas Touret, Martin Wabitsch, Kevin Y. Lee & Peter E. Light. Subcutaneous white adipocytes express a light sensitive signaling pathway mediated via a melanopsin/TRPC channel axis. Scientific Reports November 27;7:16332

[2] Reid KJ, Santostasi G, Baron KG, Wilson J, Kang J, Zee PC. Timing and intensity of light correlate with body weight in adults. PLoS One 2014;2;9(4)

[3] Geldenhuys S, Hart PH, Endersby R, Jacoby P, Feelisch M, Weller RB, Matthews V, Gorman S. Ultraviolet radiation suppresses obesity and symptoms of metabolic syndrome independently of vitamin D in mice fed a high-fat diet. Diabetes. 2014 Nov;63(11):3759-69

[4] Dr. Shelly Gorman, quoted on Science Network Australia article: Sun shines light on obesity challenge. http://www.sciencewa.net.au/topics/health-a-medicine/item/3618-sun-shines-light-on-obesity-challenge (accessed February 4, 2016)

[5] Cândido FG, Bressan J. Vitamin D: link between osteoporosis, obesity, and diabetes? Int J Mol Sci. 2014 Apr 17;15(4):6569-9.

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Reduce risk of liver cancer with Sunlight. Sun exposure is inversely associated with risk..

Sunlight fighting liver cancerAlthough liver cancer is generally thought to be related to drinking, other factor such as obesity, HIV infection, smoking, diabetes, socioeconomic factors, drugs and others come into play. A recent study compared sun exposure to liver cancer and adjusted for the aforementioned factors. Sun exposure was shown to be a major factor in reducing the risk of the most prevalent and deadly liver cancer, called hepatocellular carcinoma.[1]

Major finding for liver cancer:

The subjects were divided into five groups, or quintiles, based on their sun exposure. In addition such factors as as outdoor activity, geographical residence, urban or rural settings, etc. were adjusted for.

Most noteworthy, was the fact that for each quintile of increasing sun exposure, there was a 17% decrease in the liver cancer risk.

A disappointment:

The only disappointing part to the study was this: The researchers assumed that the positive influence of sun exposure on liver cancer was due to vitamin D production. And, they may have been correct. Yet the sun causes the body to produce many other photoproducts. Due to the sun’s myriad effects, serotonin, endorphin, BDNF, nitric oxide, and dopamine are all increased. Therefore, it is impossible to know if vitamin D alone was the reason for the reduced risk of liver cancer. However, vitamin D undoubtedly played a large part in the positive results.  And, there is a problem with giving vitamin D the credit without knowing for sure. People may believe, due to this research, that they need only to take a vitamin D supplement to receive all benefits of sunlight. Therefore, they can make very bad assumptions.

This is the first study on sun exposure and liver cancer.

Probably, this is the first research to show a link between liver cancer and inadequate sun exposure. However, there are indications that sun exposure is associated with a reduced risk of another liver ailment, called fatty liver disease.[2]

In conclusion, if you are a liver lover, you can love your liver by protecting it from liver cancer. Hence, you should obtain your share of unscreened, direct, non-burning sun exposure. Happy sunning!

[1] Trang VoPham, Kimberly A. Bertrand, Jian-Min Yuan, Rulla M. Tamimi, Jaime E. Hart,

and Francine Laden. Ambient ultraviolet radiation exposure and hepatocellular carcinoma incidence in the United States. Environmental Health (2017) 16:89.

[2] Gorman S, Black LJ, Feelisch M, Hart PH, Weller R. Can skin exposure to sun prevent liver inflammation? Nutrients 2015 May 5;7(5):3219-39.

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Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) (Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis) are painful! Tame them with Sun Exposure.

First of all, let’s define IBD:Stop these diseases with sun exposure.

Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are known as Crohn’s disease (CD) and Ulcerative Colitis (UC). UC is a chronic inflammatory condition characterized by relapsing and remitting episodes of inflammation limited to the mucosal layer of the colon.[1] Crohn’s however, can involve any part of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus, but most commonly affects the small intestine or the colon, or both.[2]

New Italian Research

Research from Italy, published in December, 2017, shows that inadequate sun exposure is associated closely with IBD.[3] The researchers demonstrated that “Patients with IBD are significantly less exposed to sunlight then controls in our Mediterranean Country, often to an extent that may impair Vitamin D activation.” Consequently, they suggest that increased sun exposure may prove beneficial to patients.

Other research:

Furthermore, in a 12-year investigation of hundreds of thousands of IBD patients, the following was found: Hospitalizations and prolonged hospitalizations for both UC and CD were higher among those who had low sun exposure, compared to those with very high sun exposure.[4] In addition, the same relationship was shown between sun exposure, bowel surgeries and deaths: more surgeries were needed for those IBD patients who experienced the lowest sun exposure compared to those who had the highest sun exposure, and more deaths occurred among those with low exposure.

Does sun exposure help other diseases?

Furthermore, an interesting side note to the aforementioned investigation was the large number of non-IBD patients analyzed for sun exposure levels. Most noteworthy was the finding that the same relationship existed as with the IBD patients—low sun exposure was associated with prolonged hospitalizations and more deaths when compared with high exposure. Therefore, sun exposure saves lives, whether by decreasing IBD or preventing the myriad additional diseases that we have previously discussed.

In conclusion, if you have a painful feeling deep in your gut, take action: First of all, get a diagnosis. But do it while simultaneously increasing your safe, non-burning sun exposure. It may be just what the doctor ordered!

[1] Peppercorn M, Cheifetz, A, Rutgeerts P, Grover S. Definition, epidemiology, and risk factors in inflammatory bowel disease. http://www.uptodate.com/contents/definition-epidemiology-and-risk-factors-in-inflammatory-bowel-disease.

[2] Web MD http://www.webmd.com/ibd-crohns-disease/crohns-disease/inflammatory-bowel-syndrome.

[3] Vernia P, Burrelli Scotti G, Dei Giudici A, Chiappini A, Cannizzaro S, Afferri MT, de Carolis A. Inadequate Sunlight Exposure in Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. J Dig Dis. 2017 Dec 18. doi: 10.1111/1751-2980.12567. [Epub ahead of print]

[4] Limketkai BN, Bayless TM, Brant SR, Hutfless SM. Lower regional and temporal ultraviolet exposure is associated with increased rates and severity of inflammatory bowel disease hospitalization. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2014 Sep;40(5):508-17.

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Maintain your marbles—Vitamin D and Sunshine protect against Dementia and Cognitive Loss.

Better cognitive ability with vitamin DDoes cognitive loss lead to dementia? Yes. Is vitamin D important to the risk of cognitive loss? Yes. Do those levels also influence the ability to think (cognitive ability)? In 2002, 252 people were assessed for vitamin D levels, signs of dementia and cognitive ability.[1] And, in 2012 another assessment was completed. The data was then assessed to determine if the initial vitamin D levels were associated with different risks of dementia and cognitive ability after 10 years.

Cognitive ability results:

First of all, those with higher vitamin D levels at the beginning of the ten-year period had about 40% better executive functioning at the end of the period compared with those who had lower vitamin D levels (executive functions are a set of processes that all have to do with managing oneself and one’s resources in order to achieve a goal, and they can be viewed as the “conductor” of all cognitive skills.)[2]

Of course, vitamin D levels are determined by the quantity of sun exposure one receives. Therefore, we could say that vitamin D levels are a surrogate measurement of sun exposure.

Other research on sunlight and cognitive ability:Much research has been done on the association of sun exposure on cognitive abilities, so this research is no surprise. Especially relevant are the results of more recent research, based on a 15-year residential history of varying degrees of sun exposure. It has also shown cognitive impairment in persons who were below the median exposure to sun was 88% greater than those who were above the median.[3] Researchers mentioned vitamin D as a possible mechanism by which sun positively influenced cognitive abilities. And, they also remarked that regulation of the circadian rhythm by sun could be a factor. Additionally, these same investigators had previously shown the following: lower levels of sun exposure resulted in a 2.6-times higher incidence of cognitive impairment.[4] 

 Does BDNF play a part in protecting cognitive ability? 

Part of the reason for better cognitive skills under the influence of sun exposure may not have anything to do with vitamin D. It could be due to a chemical called Brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF). It is a part of a cascade of proteins promoting growth of neurons and preventing nerve death.[5] It is especially relevant that BDNF levels have been shown to increase significantly after bright light exposure.[6] And, in what I would consider to be a remarkably important study, both light exposure and treadmill exercise increased the expression of BDNF in rats.[7] And—as the researchers showed—exercise and/or bright light promoted neurogenesis (new nerve cell growth) in the adult rat brain. How important is this finding for adults who are worried about cognitive decline? Furthermore, we are actually seeing an example of new brain cells being built by bright light and exercise! Researchers have shown that BDNF has an effect on behavior, mood (e.g. depression), and brain adaptation (e.g. plasticity) and that its levels fluctuate seasonally in correlation with the amount of ambient sun:[8]

 

In addition, we can add one more natural chemical inversely associated with cognitive decline, depression, memory loss, and nervous system degeneration, and directly associated with sun exposure. We now have vitamin D, serotonin, endorphins, dopamine and BDNF. Hence, sun exposure is absolutely necessary to human health. Be sure you are obtaining your share! Don’t let your mind deteriorate due to avoiding the sunlight.

 

Embrace the sun, but do it safely. Finally: avoid sunburn.

 

 

 

[1] Alicia M. Goodwill, Stephen Campbell, Steven Simpson Jr, Maria Bisignano,

Cherie Chiang, Lorraine Dennerstein, Cassandra Szoekea. Vitamin D status is associated with executive function a decade later: Data from the Women’s Healthy Ageing Project. Maturitas 107 (2018) 56–62

[2] http://www.ldonline.org/article/29122

[3] Kent ST, Kabagambe EK, Wadley VG, Howard VJ, Crosson WL, Al-Hamdan MZ, Judd SE, Peace F, McClure LA. The relationship between long-term sun radiation and cognitive decline in the REGARDS cohort study. Int J Biometeorol. 2014 Apr;58(3):361-70.

[4] Kent ST, McClure LA, Crosson WL, Arnett DK, Wadley VG, Sathiakumar N. Effect of sun exposure on cognitive function among depressed and non-depressed participants: a REGARDS cross-sectional study. Environ Health. 2009 Jul 28;8:34

[5] http://scicurious.scientopia.org/2010/12/13/bdnf-and-depression/

[6] Tirassa P1, Iannitelli A, Sornelli F, Cirulli F, Mazza M, Calza A, Alleva E, Branchi I, Aloe L, Bersani G, Pacitti F. Daily serum and salivary BDNF levels correlate with morning-evening personality type in women and are affected by light therapy. Riv Psichiatr. 2012 Nov-Dec;47(6):527-34.

[7] Kwon SJ, Park J, Park SY, Song KS, Jung ST, Jung SB, Park IR, Choi WS, Kwon SO. Low-intensity treadmill exercise and/or bright light promote neurogenesis in adult rat brain. Neural Regen Res. 2013 Apr 5;8(10):922-9.

[8] Molendijk ML, Haffmans JP, Bus BA, Spinhoven P, Penninx BW, Prickaerts J, Oude Voshaar RC, Elzinga BM. Serum BDNF concentrations show strong seasonal variation and correlations with the amount of ambient sun. PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e48046.

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