Teen tanning by Marc Sorenson, EdD….
“There are lies, damn lies and statistics,” or so the saying goes. Karen Selick, of the Canadian Constitution Foundation, some time ago penned a press release entitled: Don’t outlaw teen tanning. I was fortunate that a friend thought I’d be interested. He sent me the release, even though the release was published in 2013.
Selick’s discussion gives an excellent explanation of how the twisting of statistics may lead to a total misinterpretation of the truth. She discusses the fact that anti-tanning advocates consistently state that using indoor tanning equipment before the age of 35 results in a 75% increase in the risk of developing melanoma. That does sound frightening, but when the figures are looked at more closely, she explains that the actual risk of young people contracting melanoma is almost negligible.
Her reasoning is brilliant. She consulted the Statistics Canada Causes of Death database, and demonstrates that in the decade from 2000 to 2009, the last decade from which statistics for teens were available, 5 Canadians 19 years of age or younger died from melanoma. In other words about a half-person per year.
She also points out that among teens during that same decade, there were 195 deaths from falls, 627 deaths from drowning and 6,972 from “transport accidents.”
To draw an analogy, Ms. Selick states the following: “……….. suppose that only one person in Canada were to be murdered in 2014. If two people were murdered in 2015, that would constitute a shocking 100 percent increase in the murder rate — but it would still be only two people, an extraordinarily low murder rate for a country of 34 million people.”
Another observation from the press release was a comparison of the risk of heart disease in Scotland, where sunlight is scarce, with Australia, where sunlight is abundant. The Australians have a one-third reduced risk of death rates from heart attacks. Ms. Selick’s release states that “Those who would ban teen tanning focus so intently on skin cancer that they seem completely oblivious to the health benefits that sun exposure (real or simulated) can confer.”
I have mentioned in this blog that there are 324 lives lost from diseases that are associated with sun deficiency for every life lost to diseases associated with sun exposure, and since sunbeds produce the same type of light as sun exposure, it is not surprising that sunbeds have healthful effects.
We also now have research that demonstrates that over 20 years, women who use sunbeds have a 23% reduced risk of all-cause death.
Dr. Richard Weller, a dermatologist and the author of many pro-sun research studies, often discusses the beneficial effect of nitric oxide, a photoproduct of sun and sunbed exposure. He makes a compelling case that nitric oxide dramatically reduces the risk of hypertension and heart disease. Here is one of his statements:
“The prevalence of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular deaths is around 100 times higher than those from skin cancer. Interventions leading to small changes in the incidence of cardiovascular disease are thus of greater benefit to the health of the public even than large changes in skin-cancer incidence.”
I am not here to suggest that you use a sunbed. That is up to you. I have my own sunbed and enjoy it without the least worry. Just be sure that when you use a sunbed or engage in sunbathing, do it safely without burning.
 Lindqvist PG, Epstein E, Landin-Olsson M, Ingvar C, Nielsen K, Stenbeck M, Olsson H. Avoidance of sun exposure is a risk factor for all-cause mortality: results from the Melanoma in Southern Sweden cohort. J Intern Med. 2014 Jul;276(1):77-86.
 Weller R. The health benefits of UV radiation exposure through vitamin D production or non-vitamin D
Pathways. Blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Photochem. Photobiol. Sci. 2016, DOI: 10.1039/C6PP00336B.
According to a new study, people with MS feel better when they spend more time in the sunshine. Not only will they feel better, but they will have lower rates of fatigue, and a slower progression to disability. None of this should be a surprise, since similar results have been reported for decades. For example, in 1922 Dr. Charles Davenport wrote a paper entitled, “Multiple Sclerosis from the standpoint of geographic distribution and race. He analyzed the MS rate of military draftees and compared it to their states of origin. The highest rates were found in men who grew up in Michigan, Wisconsin, and the extreme northwest—all areas with low sun availability. There were few cases of MS among those who grew up in southern states, where sun exposure is abundant. He also noted that those from urban areas, which have lower sun availability than rural areas, had 50% higher MS rates than those from rural areas. Similar studies confirm that relationship. 
Another interesting research paper demonstrated that sun exposure, while obviously being critical in the production of vitamin D, had its own profound influence in lessening the degeneration of nerves (neurodegeneration) in those with MS. By measuring whole brain volume (WBV) and grey-matter volume (GMV) by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the scientists determined that greater summer sun exposure predicted greater WBV and GMV in MS patients. Interestingly though, when vitamin D levels were measured, they had no influence on the positive effects of sun exposure with WBV or GMV. The researchers concluded: “Sun exposure may have direct effects on MRI measures of neurodegeneration in MS, independently of vitamin D.”
Be sure that you soak up your share of sunlight, without burning of course. It may indeed save your life!
 Davenport, C. Multiple Sclerosis from the standpoint of geographic distribution and race. Arch Neurol Psychiatry 1922;8:
 Acheson ED, Bachrach CA, Wright FM. Some comments on the relationship of the distribution of multiple sclerosis to altitude, solar radiation and other variables. Acta Psychiat (Scand) 1960;35 (suppl 147):132-47. 51-58
 Norman JE Jr, Kurtzke JF, Beebe GW. Epidemiology of multiple sclerosis in USA veterans: 2. Latitude, climate, and risk of multiple sclerosis. J Chron Dis 1983;36:551-59
 Zivadinov R, Treu CN, Weinstock-Guttman B, Turner C, Bergsland N, O’Connor K, Dwyer MG, Carl E, Ramasamy DP, Qu J, Ramanathan M. Interdependence and contributions of sun exposure and vitamin D to MRI measures in multiple sclerosis. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2013 Oct;84(10):1075-81.
Benefits of sun exposure by Marc Sorenson, EdD…
A new study on nutrition and skin aging corroborates what I have said previously in this blog: Sunlight is not the guilty party when skin problems occur; it is only one of many factors that influence the skin, and in some cases the influence is protective. And of course, sun exposure influence on the other organs of the body is overwhelmingly healthful.
To the extent that sun causes skin damage, it does so due to lack of proper nutrients in the diet, and there is little doubt that there will be some damage caused by sun exposure without proper nutrition. We eat too many toxic fats, too much meat and cheese, too much sugar and too many refined carbohydrates. At the same time we eat far too few vegetables and fruits, which can protect all the tissues in the body, including skin. Much of that protection is due to the high antioxidant levels of fruits and veggies. It is normal for humans to be exposed to sunlight, and it is equally normal for humans to take in the nutrients necessary to prevent skin damage, so that the sun may heal the body without harming our largest organ.
One of those antioxidants is astaxanthin, a new “superstar” in the antioxidant field. A new study shows that a group of mice that were exposed to Ultraviolet A Light (UVA,) lost water in the skin and developed wrinkles (both signs of skin aging). But in a group of mice that were also exposed to UVA and were supplemented with astaxanthin, no such skin aging occurred. This information demonstrates that poor nutritional habits may make sun exposure dangerous to the skin, because it is working without God’s natural balancing through nutrition. Our atrocious eating (and drinking) habits lead to skin damage, and sun exposure gets the blame.
Fruits and vegetable consumption help protect the skin, but other nutritional factors damage the skin. Alcohol consumption is one such factor; in one investigation, those persons who were in the highest quintile (fifth) of alcohol consumption were shown to have a 65% increased risk of melanoma.  Another indicated a 250% increased melanoma risk among those who consumed two or more alcoholic drinks per day, and a third demonstrated that those persons who consumed seven or more drinks per week had 64% greater risk of melanoma and a 23% greater risk of non-melanoma skin cancer when compared to non-drinkers. There are at least two other negative dietary habits that correlate to increased skin-cancer risk: first, the highest dairy-product consumption has also been shown to correlate to a 2½ times increased in risk of developing a non-melanoma carcinoma (common skin cancer). Secondly, the types of fats we consume are exceptionally important. Fats we consume in junk foods are deadly, both for overall health and for skin cancer. They are filled with free-radical molecules that wreak havoc on the skin; if we eat such fats without massive quantities of colorful fruits and veggies, we will be much more susceptible to skin damage and potential cancers of all kinds.
Sun exposure is absolutely essential for human health; but to protect yourself against any damage to the skin, eat the foods that were made for humans!
 Komatsu T, Sasaki S, Manabe Y, Hirata T, Sugawara T. Preventive effect of dietary astaxanthin on UVA-induced skin photoaging in hairless mice. PLoS One. 2017 Feb 7;12(2):e0171178.
 Millen AE, Tucker MA, Hartge P, Halpern A, Elder DE, Guerry D 4th, Holly EA, Sagebiel RW, Potischman N. Diet and melanoma in a case-control study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2004 Jun;13(6):1042-51.
Bain C, Green A, Siskind V, Alexander J, Harvey P. Diet and melanoma. An exploratory case-control study. Ann Epidemiol 1993;3:235-38.
Jessica T. Kubo, Michael T. Henderson, Manisha Desai, Jean Wactawski-Wende, Marcia L. Stefanick, Jean Y. Tang. Alcohol consumption and risk of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer in the Women’s Health Initiative. Cancer Causes Control. 2014 Jan;25(1):1-10.
Hughes MC, van der Pols JC, Marks GC, Green AC. Food intake and risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the skin in a community: The Nambour skin cancer cohort study. Int J Cancer 2006; online publication ahead of print.
Benegits of sun exposure by Marc Sorenson, EdD…
For those who follow my writings, it should now be obvious that the risk of melanoma is decreased by regular sun exposure, and that the evidence for the health benefits of safe sun becomes clearer by the day. I opine that millions of lives could be saved yearly by regular, non-burning sun exposure for the entire population.
Another benefit of moderate sun exposure, or other ultraviolet radiation (UVR), is that it does not cause sufficient DNA damage to prevent efficient repair. A study published in the British Journal of Dermatology reviewed the impact of repeated low level sunlight exposures on vitamin D status and DNA damage/repair in light and brown skinned individuals. The UVR doses were equivalent to 13-17 minutes of midday exposure in the UK. The study reported that no evidence existed for these low-level exposures leading to accumulated DNA-damage, indicating that any damage was quickly repaired. The research also showed that the exposures led to sufficient vitamin D levels in the participants. In addition, it has been shown that “Regular exposure to UV leads to an almost complete disappearance of DNA damage in the basal and suprabasal layers of the epidermis, where the initiating of skin cancer occurs. It is no wonder that regular sun exposure is associated with less melanoma! Soak up some moderate, non-burning sun!
 Felton SJ, Cooke MS, Kift R, Berry JL, Webb AR, Lam PMW, de Gruijl FR, Vail A, and Rhodes LE. Concurrent beneficial (vitamin D production) and hazardous (cutaneous DNA damage) impact of repeated low-level summer sunlight exposures. Br J Dermatol. 2016 Jul 14. doi: 10.1111/bjd.14863. [Epub ahead of print]
 van der Rhee H, de Vries E, Coomans C, van de Velde P, Jan Willem Coebergh JW. Sunlight: For Better or For Worse? A Review of Positive and Negative Effects of Sun Exposure. Cancer Research Frontiers. 2016 May; 2(2): 156-183.
The necessity of sun exposure for heart health, by Marc Sorenson, EdD…
Despite the fact that higher vitamin D levels are nearly always found to be related to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and associated diseases such as diabetes mellitus, randomized controlled trials have not found that vitamin D supplementation reduces risk of cardiovascular disease.
Therefore, vitamin D levels are likely a surrogate measurement for sun exposure, meaning that some other photoproduct such as nitric oxide (NO) may be responsible for the lowered risk of CVD. A pair of recent papers reported that leisure-time or recreational outdoor physical activity was significantly associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. In a study in the U.S., both frequency and intensity of outdoor activities were associated with reduced risk, as was higher vitamin D level. When vitamin D levels were removed from the equation, an inverse association was still found between outdoor recreational activity and mortality. The authors stated the following: “The underlying mechanism for this association may not involve 25(OH)D hence, further studies are warranted to confirm and investigate the underlying mechanism.” I would suggest that nitric oxide was the protective photoproduct, produced by sun exposure, which lessened the risk of CVD with outdoor activity.
Similar findings have been found for hypertension, diabetes mellitus, heart failure, stroke, and myocardial infarction (heart attack). In a study in Finland, older adults who had moderate leisure-time activity had 30-40% reduced mortality and cardiovascular disease rates than those with low activity levels, while those with high activity levels had 50% lower rates.
Two messages from this research: (1) Start living more of your life outdoors. (2) Be sure to obtain plenty of non-burning sun exposure during you outdoor activity. Your life may depend on it.
 Wang L, Song Y, Manson JE, Pilz S, März W, Michaëlsson K, Lundqvist A, Jassal SK, Barrett-Connor E, Zhang C, Eaton CB, May HT, Anderson JL, Sesso HD. Circulating 25-hydroxy-vitamin D and risk of cardiovascular disease: A meta-analysis of prospective studies. Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2012 Nov 1;5(6):819-29.
 Song Y, Wang L, Pittas AG, Del Gobbo LC, Zhang C, Manson JE, Hu FB. Blood 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels and incident type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis of prospective studies. Diabetes Care. 2013 May;36(5):1422-8.
 Veloudi P, Jones G, Sharman JE. Effectiveness of vitamin D supplementation for cardiovascular health outcomes. Pulse 2016;4:193-207 https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/452742
 Donneyong MM, Taylor KC, Kerber RA, Hornung CA, Scragg R. Is outdoor recreational activity an independent predictor of cardiovascular disease mortality – NHANES III? Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2016 Aug;26(8):735-42.
 Barengo NC, Antikainen R, Borodulin K, Harald K, Jousilahti P. Leisure-Time Physical Activity Reduces Total and Cardiovascular Mortality and Cardiovascular Disease Incidence in Older Adults. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2016 Dec 26. doi: 10.1111/jgs.14694. [Epub ahead of print]
By Marc Sorenson, EdD, for sun exposure…
A new research paper on sun exposure and cancer has some interesting observations and some errors. It is entitled, Does Sunlight protect us from cancer? Here is the abstract of the article, verbatim.
“The Ultraviolet (UV) radiation contained in sunlight is a powerful mutagen and immune suppressant which partly explains why exposure to solar UV is the biggest risk factor for the development of cutaneous tumors. Evidence is building that sunlight may be protective against some internal malignancies. Because patients with these tumors are often vitamin D deficient, this has led some to propose that vitamin D supplementation will be beneficial in the treatment of these cancers. However, the results from already completed trials have been disappointing which has given weight to the argument that there must be something else about sunlight that explains its cancer-protecting properties.”
The first sentence, of course, is false. The idea, that sun exposure is the biggest risk factor for skin cancer, is erroneous. We have presented materials many times, proving that melanoma is not caused by sun exposure, and that sun exposure is protective against that disease. And as regards common skin cancers, we have shown that high-fat nutrition, lack of antioxidants, meat consumption and alcohol intake are all risk factors. Search the blogs on this site to read the different articles.
The statement is correct, of course, that sunlight is protective against many internal cancers. Dr. Bill Grant and I are finishing our book, Embrace the Sun, where we present nearly all of the research on the protective influence of sun exposure against cancer.
The statement that vitamin D research has been disappointing is both true and false. Randomized controlled studies (RCTs) have shown the vitamin D supplements do have a protective effect against internal cancers, contrary to the statement by the researchers.
Finally, let’s look at the statement that there is something beyond vitamin D that explains the cancer-protecting properties of sun exposure. That is partially true. Beyond vitamin D, the sun causes the production of nitric oxide, serotonin, endorphin and BDNF, all of which are vital to human health, and may have their own cancer-protective properties.
The bottom line? Eat correctly (avoid junk), REGULARLY soak up some sun around midday and get plenty of exercise. That advice will be a boon to your health in myriad ways.
By Marc Sorenson, EdD. For sun exposure…
Can sun exposure reduce rheumatoid arthritis (RA)?
RA is a terrible, crippling disease, which causes chronic inflammation of the joints, the tissue around the joints, and certain organs in the body. Like most diseases, it is one to be avoided and prevented when possible, and sun exposure may indeed help. At our former health resort in Southern Utah, we observed that many people were able to reduce the swelling and inflammation of this disease through adherence to a mostly plant-based nutrition program, or so we thought. Sun exposure in our very sunlit climate may have also played a critically-important part. One of our attendees was a former writer and piano player whose fingers had lost their ability to use the keyboards on either the computer or the piano. In less than two weeks she had gained sufficient range of motion in her hands to resume her two important activities. In addition, the swelling of her knuckles was profoundly reduced. And whereas the nutrition we used was doubtlessly responsible for much of her success, sun exposure was likely responsible for the remainder.
One paper demonstrated that at high latitudes, where sun exposure is considerably less available, the rate of RA is much higher than at lower latitudes. RA is also more severe in winter, a time of less sun exposure. In another report from researchers in Ireland (a northern country with little sun exposure due to overcast conditions), it was shown that 70% of patients had low vitamin D levels and that 26% were severely deficient. And in an investigation using data from the nurses health study, those women who were in the highest versus the lowest category of UVB (ultraviolet light exposure from sun or other sources), had a 21% decreased RA risk.
RA is an autoimmune rheumatic disease (ARD), and seasonal vitamin D declines may trigger flares in (ARD). Such declines, of course, are a result of decreasing sun exposure in the colder seasons.
Arthritic joints carry another devastating side effect. Hip replacement surgery is often prescribed for arthritic conditions, and those people who go through total-hip-replacement procedures are 4.7 times as likely to have an ischemic stroke, and 4.4 times as likely to have a hemorrhagic stroke in the first two weeks post surgery. Those stroke risks remain elevated for 6-12 weeks.
Eat correctly and safely soak up the sun. It’s a better option than hip replacement and potential stroke!
 Medicinenet.com. Definition of rheumatoid arthritis. http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=5354.
Vieira VM, Hart JE, Webster TF, Weinberg J, Puett R, Laden F, CostenbaderKH, Karlson EW. Association between Residences in U.S. Northern Latitudes and Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Spatial Analysis of the Nurses’ Health Study. Environ Health Perspect. 2010 Mar 25. [Epub ahead of print]
Cutolo M, Otsa K, Uprus M, Paolino S, Seriolo B. Vitamin D in rheumatoid arthritis. Autoimmun Rev 2007;7:59-64
Haroon, M. Report to European Union League Against Rheumatism, June 13, 2008.
Arkema EV, Hart JE, Bertrand KA, Laden F, Grodstein F, Rosner BA, Karlson EW, CostenbaderKH. Exposure to ultraviolet-B and risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis among women in the Nurses’ Health Study. Ann Rheum Dis. 2013 Apr;72(4):506-11
CutoloM1, Paolino S, Sulli A, Smith V, Pizzorni C, Seriolo B. Vitamin D, steroid hormones, and autoimmunity. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2014 May;1317:39-46.
Lalmohamed A, Vestergaard P, Cooper C, de Boer A, Leufkens HG, van StaaTP, de Vries F. Hip replacement surgery and stroke. Stroke 2012;43(12):3225-9.
By Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute, for sensible tanning bed use
The online magazine, Life Science Daily, just posted an article regarding the health benefits of UV light from tanning beds. Surprisingly, they were quoting from research published in the British Journal of Dermatology. I say “surprising,” because so many dermatologists and dermatological organizations are vehemently opposed to a single ray of sunlight touching the skin. And heaven forbid someone should use a tanning bed.
Three times weekly, adult subjects were exposed to a tanning bed that emitted 95% UVA rays and 5% UVB rays, which is approximately the amount of UVA and UVB that midday summer sunlight emits. Each exposure lasted six minutes. Here are some of the salient points reported in the article:
- Any damage caused by the light exposure was repaired by the by the skin.
- One of the positive benefits of the light was the production of nitric oxide, which improves blood flow and reduces blood pressure.
- Another positive benefit was the productions of beta-endorphins, which reduce depression.
- A third benefit, of course, is the production of vitamin D, necessary for growth and bone strength, as well as asthma prevention.
Here is one of the important quotes from the article, from Dr. Michael Holick: “What this study shows is that you can get a reasonable amount of sunlight that would make enough vitamin D in your skin living in the U.K. Yes, the DNA is somewhat damaged, but because the body has adapted to its environment, it has the ability to repair it.” Dr. Holick also suggested that people become educated about the wide range of health benefits from modest sun exposure, which is superior to taking vitamin D supplements.
Step by step, the truth is overcoming the powers of darkness! Seek the sun, and let a tanning bed enhance your health in the winter.
Click here to read the article. https://lifesciencedaily.com/stories/19743-study-shows-health-benefits-non-burning-exposure-uv-light/
Sun and cognitive ability by Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute…
If you have depression, you may also have cognitive impairment, according to older research that I just became aware of. The researchers measured cognitive abilities among approximately 14,000 depressed subjects and then exposed them to either one day of sunlight or two weeks of sunlight. They then determined if cognitive disabilities were associated with the sun they obtained.
The results were impressive: Those who were sun-deprived for two weeks had 2.5 times the risk of being cognitively impaired, compared to those who had sufficient sunlight. A one-day exposure made no significant difference in cognition.
Results of other research, based on a 15-year residential history of varying degrees of sun exposure, has also shown that cognitive impairment in persons who were below the median exposure to sun, was 88% greater than those who were above the median. The researchers mentioned vitamin D as a possible mechanism by which sun positively influenced cognition, but they also remarked that regulation of the circadian rhythm by sunlight could be a factor.
Several other studies showed a close, positive association between vitamin D levels and cognition, and as we know, vitamin D levels in most cases are a surrogate measurement for sun exposure.
The message is to get plenty of sunlight to improve mental clarity. Happy thinking!
 Shia T Kent, Leslie A McClure, William L Crosson, Donna K Arnett, Virginia G Wadley and Nalini Sathiakumar. Effect of sunlight exposure on cognitive function among depressed and non-depressed participants: a REGARDS cross-sectional study. Environmental Health 2009, 8:34
 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.