Blood pressure is determined by (1) the amount of blood the heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in the arteries. Consequently, the more blood the heart pumps, and the tighter the arteries, the higher the blood pressure.
Chronic high blood pressure, or hypertension, can damage arterial walls and can eventually lead to an increased risk from heart disease, heart failure, other arterial diseases, kidney disease, irregular heart rhythms, osteoporosis, cognitive dysfunction, painful intercourse and stroke. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is rampant in western societies. Untreated high blood pressure is a major killer. It is especially dangerous because it is primary risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
I have written several blogs on high blood pressure. Nevertheless, the experience of my friend Wayne may provide impetus for hypertension sufferers to try the sunshine solution.
Wayne, a resident of Texas, came to our former health resort seeking help for conditions of high blood pressure, obesity and various other maladies. I recommended, along with our healthful nutrition program, that he should sunbathe daily. Consequently, he “took it to heart” and could be found outside by the pool daily, dutifully soaking up the midday sunlight.
Wayne arrived at our program with a blood pressure of 157 systolic and 97 diastolic (157/97). Most noteworthy, those numbers put him at high risk for a stroke. Normal blood pressures are considered below 120 systolic, and below 80 diastolic. Four weeks later, as a result of his lifestyle changes. His numbers dropped to 125/54, meaning that he progressed from high stroke risk to very low stroke risk. Especially relevant is the fact that these changes were accomplished without medication.
The average drop in blood pressure among all guests at that program was 16 systolic and 12 diastolic. This is remarkable, considering that many of them had normal levels coming in.
Here are just a few of the blood pressure changes accomplished during that time:
- Frieda, from Oregon, lowered her blood pressure 33 points systolic and 30 points diastolic.
- Joyce, from Rhode Island, lowered her blood pressure 31 points systolic and 24 points diastolic.
- Jeff, from Utah, lowered his blood pressure 39 points systolic and 12 points diastolic.
- Susan, from New York, lowered her blood pressure 20 points systolic and 26 points diastolic.
Was all of this success due to sun exposure?
It should not be construed that these results were all a result of sun exposure. Nor should we conclude that hypertension is a result of sun deprivation. Typical American citizens engage daily in “killer” nutrition, subjecting themselves to dietary patterns and chemical additives that never existed in human life until modern times. Therein lie the major causes of hypertension. Hence, part of the improvements in blood pressure were due to the dietary changes we implemented with our guests.
More research regarding sunlight and blood pressure:
Sun exposure can, to an extent, act as an antidote to the poisons we consume. And, it acts much more quickly than dietary changes. Consider this: Dr. Oplander and his colleagues demonstrated that whole-body Ultraviolet A (UVA) irradiation worked what seemed like a miracle. It caused a rapid, significant decrease of 11% in both systolic (upper number) and diastolic (lower number) blood pressure 30 minutes after the exposure. That change lasted up to 60 minutes. The lowered blood pressure lasted up to 60 minutes. Not only did blood pressure decrease, but arterial blood flow increased by 68%.
Nitric oxide, a potent vasodilator (blood-vessel relaxer) that occurs with sun exposure, was the photoproduct that led to these spectacular, important changes. This is important, because UVA is available almost any time the sun shines, winter and summer. Ultraviolet B (UVB) is not available in some areas during winter, due to the sun’s angle. This is especially true in the higher latitudes of the Northern hemisphere, or in the lower latitudes of the Southern hemisphere. UVB stimulates the production of vitamin D. So, it is especially relevant here that vitamin D was not involved in the lowering of blood pressure in Dr. Oplander’s study. Nitric oxide, however, was very involved.
Let’s take a look at one more study of sun exposure and hypertension: research China demonstrates that exposure to sun correlates to a lowered risk: In a randomly selected population of Chinese residents from Macau (where the rate of hypertension is very high), the following risk factors for hypertension were assessed: lack of sun exposure, low intake of fish, smoking, obesity and lack of exercise. An average of more than one-half hour of sun exposure per day, as compared to no sun exposure, predicted a 40% reduced risk for hypertension.
I could go on for another page about the horrors of blood-pressure medication, but what I have said suffices. Non-burning sun exposure is one of the best elixirs for hypertension. In conclusion, one might say that it is no wonder that Wayne overcame his blood pressure problem!
 Mayo Clinic Diseases and Conditions: High blood pressure (hypertension). http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/basics/definition/con-20019580 (accessed January 5, 2016).
 Ann Pietrangelo. Healthline 2014 http://www.healthline.com/health/high-blood-pressure-hypertension/effect-on-body (accessed January 4, 2016).
 Opländer C, Volkmar CM, Paunel-Görgülü A, van Faassen EE, Heiss C, Kelm M, Halmer D, Mürtz M, Pallua N, Suschek CV.. Whole body UVA irradiation lowers systemic blood pressure by release of nitric oxide from intracutaneous photolabile nitric oxide derivates. Circ Res. 2009;105:1031–40.
 Ke L, Ho J, Feng J, Mpofu E, Dibley MJ, Feng X, Van F, Leong S, Lau W, Lueng P, Kowk C, Li Y, Mason RS, Brock KE. Modifiable risk factors including sun exposure and fish consumption are associated with risk of hypertension in a large representative population from Macau. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 2013 Nov 1 [Epub ahead of print].
Since inflammation is necessary to produce the condition of atherosclerosis (plugging of the arteries). It would be interesting to know whether UVB might also have the same anti-inflammatory effects in the arteries. If so, the effect could inhibit or eliminate atherosclerosis, and thus provide an entirely new treatment for heart disease. It would also protect against vascular events such as stroke and intermittent claudication.
The idea that UVB could prevent atherosclerosis by reducing inflammation in arteries was recently studied by Japanese researchers.[i] Using a mouse model, they demonstrated that UVB light irradiation, applied once a week for 14 weeks, leads to an increase in the action of T-regulatory cells, thereby inhibiting inflammation. In addition, exposure reduced the production of another type of T-cell which is pro-inflammatory and thereby pro-atherogenic (leading to the production of atherosclerosis). These two effects of UVB light reduce the development and progression of atherosclerosis.
Stated differently, the research shows that sun exposure is a critically-important therapy to reduce and prevent diseases of the heart and blood vessels. Protect your heart by being sure to obtain sufficient non-burning sunlight from sun exposure or other sources such as sun lamps. It is also important to note that neither skin cancer nor skin inflammation were observed following UVB exposure in this breakthrough study, which again emphasizes the importance of sun exposure for human health.
If these findings are true, then we would expect that there would be fewer cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes during times of less sun exposure. Accordingly, Research has demonstrated that those below the median level of serum vitamin D suffer 57% more heart attacks than those whose levels were above the median[i] (low vitamin D levels are a surrogate for sun exposure). They also noted that the greatest number of heart attacks occurred in winter and early spring. These seasons, of course, are the times of lowest sun exposure. And, according to what we have learned, they are also the times of greatest inflammation.
Let there be light, and safely apply it to your skin. Be sure not to burn.
[i] Scragg R, Jackson R, Holdaway IM, Lim T, Beaglehole R. Myocardial infarction is inversely associated with plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 levels: a community-based study. Int J Epidemiol 1990;19:559-63.
[i] Sasaki N, Yamashita T, Kasahara K, Fukunaga A, Yamaguchi T, et al. UVB Exposure Prevents Atherosclerosis by Regulating Immunoinflammatory Responses. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2016;36:00-00
Bipolar disorder, or bipolar depression, may lead to early death. It is a mental condition characterized by alternating mania and depression, usually interspersed with normal mood. And, it also may include psychosis. Because of the alternating moods, bipolar disorder was previously called manic-depressive illness. The word “manic” means excessive activity, euphoric mood, and impaired judgement.
Bipolar disorder affects about 5.7 million adult Americans, and one in 5 people who have the condition commits suicide. Furthermore, the U.S. has the highest bipolar rate in the world. Bipolar disorder is also the sixth leading cause of disability in the world. In addition, it results in a 9.2-year reduction in the expected life span.
New (and very exciting) research demonstrates that bright-light therapy has a profound and positive influence on this disease. The researchers conducted a 6-week program to investigate the value of bright light therapy at midday for bipolar depression. The study participants were chosen from depressed adults who were receiving stable dosages of anti-manic medication. The subjects were randomly assigned to treatment in one of two groups: the bright-white light (7,000 lux) group or dim-red light (50 lux) group.
At the end of the six-week period, 68% of the bright-light group went into remission of their bipolar problems, compared with 15% of the dim-light group. This is a most noteworthy result.
The study provides transcendently important information for those who suffer from this debilitating mental disorder. Therefore, the researchers summarized their findings thusly: “The data from this study provide robust evidence that supports the efficacy of midday bright light therapy for bipolar depression.”
The mechanism by which bright-light therapy performs its anti-depressive miracles is probably through production of serotonin in the brain. When we are surrounded by bright light, the light enters the eye and stimulates the brain to produce serotonin. Serotonin is the master mood enhancer, and anti-depressant drugs work by manipulating serotonin. Hence, these drugs are called selective serotonin uptake inhibitors (SSRI). However, SSRI often have serious, sometimes deadly, side effects. We should therefore obtain our serotonin naturally, through regular sun exposure. Why? Because serotonin can be increased by as much as 800% by spending a day in the sunlight. What a marvelously simple therapy bright light is. And what is the easiest way to obtain it? Go outside during the day, for goodness sake!
It is not necessary to go outside at midday. Any time of day, when the sun is shining brightly, should work very well. However, we should never look directly at the sun. That may cause eye damage. Sufficient light enters just by being outside.
In conclusion: Safely embrace the sunlight whenever possible, and remove the risk of bipolar disorder.
 Amanda Gardner. U.S. has highest bipolar rate in 11-nation study. Heath.com. March 7, 2011. http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/03/07/US.highest.bipolar.rates/
 Bipolar Disorder Statistics. BDS Alliance. http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=education_statistics_bipolar_disorder.
 Sit DK, McGowan J, Wiltrout C, Diler RS, Dills JJ, Luther J, Yang A, Ciolino JD, Seltman H, Wisniewski SR, Terman M, Wisner KL. Adjunctive Bright Light Therapy for Bipolar Depression: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial. Am J Psychiatry. 2017 Oct 3: [Epub ahead of print].
 Lambert GW, Reid C, Kaye DM, Jennings GL, Esler MD. Effect of sun and season on serotonin turnover in the brain. Lancet. 2002 Dec 7;360(9348):1840-2.
Osteoarthritis is also known as wear-and-tear arthritis. Yet, the disease is not common in parts to the world where people work hard with their joints to make a living. Rather, the disease is relatively rare. Thus, we would not consider too much work to be the cause. One would think that all of that work with the joints would lead to more wear and tear, no? Osteoarthritis is characterized by bone and cartilage degeneration in joints. This leads to pain and joint stiffness and can lead to disability.
Vitamin D research.
Research has shown that those whose blood vitamin D measurements were in the middle and lowest thirds of serum vitamin D levels, had a threefold progression of osteoarthritis of the knee during a one-to-two year period. That is, when compared to those in the highest third. Low blood levels of vitamin D also predicted greater loss of cartilage in the joints.
Other research demonstrates that in patients with arthritis of the knee, those with blood levels of vitamin D lower than 20 ng/ml (very low) have more disability. They also have more pain and more weakness than those with higher levels.,  Low vitamin D levels also correlate closely to greater knee pain and walking difficulty.
Remember, unless it is stated that 25(OH)D levels are a result of supplementation or dietary sources, those levels are dependent on sun exposure. The research on osteoarthritis, discussed above, therefore, is really research on sun exposure.
Arthritic joints carry another devastating side effect. Hip replacement surgery is often prescribed for arthritic conditions: those people who go through total-hip-replacement procedures are 4.7 times as likely to have an ischemic stroke. They are also 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. The term “ischemic” means producing a local deficiency of blood supply by obstructing blood flow.
Sun exposure, therefore, has a protective effect against arthritis. Consequently, it has the potential to prevent hip-replacement surgery. In addition, it has the potential to prevent strokes.
Consider an article from the Express, a UK online newspaper. It describes research published in the scientific journal, Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases,stating the following: “Millions of people could protect themselves from crippling arthritis by getting a regular dose of sunshine. Scientists found that women with the highest levels of exposure to the sun – specifically Ultraviolet B (UVB) light – were 21 per cent less likely to develop the disease.”
Safely embrace the sun, help prevent osteoarthritis and safeguard your health.
 McAlindonTE, Felson DT, Zhang Y, Hannan MT, Aliabadi P, Weissman B, Rush D, Wilson PW, Jacques P. Relation of dietary intake and serum levels of vitamin D to progression of osteoarthritis of the knee among participants in the Framingham Study. Ann Intern Med 1996;125:353-9.
 Baker K, Zhang YQ, Goggins J. Hypovitaminosis D and its association with muscle strength, pain and physical function in knee osteoarthritis (OA): a 30-month longitudinal, observational study; American College of Rheumatology meeting; San Antonio, TX; Oct 16-21, 2004; abstract 17552. Also see http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/538061
 Baker K, Zhang YQ, Goggins J. Hypovitaminosis D and its association with muscle strength, pain and physical function in knee osteoarthritis (OA): a 30-month longitudinal, observational study; American College of Rheumatology meeting; San Antonio, TX; Oct 16-21, 2004; abstract 17552. Also see http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/538061
 Wang, J., Nuite, M., Wheeler, L.M., Badiani, P., Joas, J., Mcadams, E.L., Fletcher, J., Lavalley, M.P., Dawson-Hughes, B., Mcalindon, T.E. 2007. Low Vitamin D levels are associated with greater pain and slow walking speed in patients with knee osteoarthritis (KOA). In: American College of Rheumatology Scientific Meeting, 11/6/07-11/11/07, Boston, MA. 56(9supplement): S124. Accessed May 14, 2010 at http://www.ars.usda.gov/research/publications/publications.htm?SEQ_NO_115=211611
 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.
 http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/375632/Sun-helps-stop-arthritis. (accessed November 27, 2015).
 Arkema EV, Hart JE, Bertrand KA, Laden F, Grodstein F, Rosner BA, Karlson EW, Costenbader KH. 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
Recent research enlightened me to a paradox in cholesterol research. It appears that vitamin D supplementation actually raises total cholesterol (TC) levels and “bad cholesterol” levels (LDL). Supplementation is also associated with a small rise in “good cholesterol” levels (HDL). The paradox lies in the fact that sunlight exposure is associated with a decrease in total cholesterol levels and LDL, while also producing a small rise in HDL. In both cases, vitamin D levels are raised significantly.
The research, from India, was born of a concern that although India has abundant sunshine, vitamin D deficiency is common, because so many do not take advantage of sunlight exposure. The researchers decided to determine whether it was better to use sunlight exposure to increase vitamin D levels, or to instead use vitamin D supplementation. To do this, they formed three groups: a control group that had “normal” levels above 50 nmoL (20 ng/ml), and two vitamin D-deficient group with levels below 50 nmoL. One of the vitamin D-deficient groups increased their usual sunlight exposure by at least 20 minutes to their face and arms between 11 AM and 3 PM daily. The other deficient group received oral supplements of 1,000 IU of vitamin D (cholecalciferol), but did not increase sunlight exposure. The researchers also measured cholesterol levels. The study lasted for 6 months and the results were as described above: A decrease in TC level and LDL levels in the sunlight exposure group, an increase in TC and LDL in the supplementation group, and an increase in HDL in both groups.
It would have been interesting if the subjects in the sunlight-exposure group had experienced full-body exposure for 20 minutes, which can produce up to 20,000 IU of vitamin D; a few minutes on the face and arms is not sufficient to optimize vitamin D levels. Equally, the use of 1,000 IU daily of vitamin D is miniscule. I would have suggested at least 4,000 IU daily. Altering upward the dosages of both sunlight and vitamin D could have shown larger differences. More research needs to be done to determine whether or not these results can be replicated.
The indications of this study is that vitamin D supplementation may be harmful because it raises serum lipids in an adverse manner. There is also an indication that sunlight exposure improves lipid profiles while still raising vitamin D levels.
By what mechanism would sun exposure lower cholesterol levels? A type of cholesterol precursor called 7-DHC is stored in the skin. It is also used to produce vitamin D when under the influence of sunlight. Regular sunlight exposure would reduce this cholesterol store and thereby reduce cholesterol levels.
As to why vitamin D supplementation might increase cholesterol levels, it could be due to the fact that it is usually made by radiating lanolin from sheep. Animal products are known to raise cholesterol levels.
Whatever the reasons for the ability of sunlight to lower cholesterol levels, this study is one more indication that sunlight is a friend to nearly every system of the body. Be sure to obtain plenty of non-burning sunlight. Your heart and brain will thank you for it!
New research from New Zealand shows that children who live in South Island of New Zealand have at least three times the risk of bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) when compared to those who live on the North Island. According to an article referencing this research, these bowel diseases usually appear in the pre-teen or teenage years and are incurable. The researchers believe that sun exposure and one of its photoproducts, Vitamin D, may play a part, although the low selenium content of the soil may also have an influence on bowel diseases.
In the southern hemisphere, of course, the farther south one travels, the colder and cloudier the weather becomes. Hence, the South Island has far less sun exposure than the North Island.
Although the researchers did not know for sure that the sunlight and vitamin D hypothesis was correct regarding bowel disease, their idea certainly has plenty to back it up. Crohn’s disease is closely correlated to vitamin D deficiency and winter season, indicating an inverse relationship with sun exposure and vitamin D production. A study of female nurses in the US found that “compared with women residing in northern latitudes [in the northern hemisphere] at age 30, the multivariate-adjusted risk for UC for women residing in southern latitudes was less than half.” Also, in a 12-year investigation of hundreds of thousands of bowel disease patients, 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.
It is important to understand that bowel disease causes malabsorption of nutrients in the gut, leading to diseases of malnutrition. Vitamin D is one of the “nutrients” that may not be absorbed efficiently, and therefore sun exposure, not supplements, may be the only viable source of vitamin D for a person with bowel disease.
So for a healthy gut, sun exposure plays a vital role. Be sure to enjoy safe, non burning sun exposure whenever possible.
 Gilman J, Shanahan F, Cashman KD. Determinants of vitamin D status in adult Crohn’s disease patients, with particular emphasis on supplemental vitamin D use. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2006 Jul;60(7):889-96.
 Khalili H, Huang ES, Ananthakrishnan AN, Higuchi L, Richter JM, Fuchs CS, Chan AT. Geographical variation and incidence of inflammatory bowel disease among US women. Gut. 2012 Dec;61(12):1686-92.
 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.
 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.
Today I happened to run across research that stunned me while also making me very happy. A study from New Dehli, India has concluded that babies should sunbathe at least 30 minutes weekly. The reason is that most mothers, and their babies are severely vitamin D deficient, and that rickets, which is a vitamin D deficiency disease, is rampant in that country. The authors said that 90% of the vitamin D requirement could be met from sun exposure. That is a strange statement, considering that sun exposure could easily take care of 100% of the vitamin D requirement.
Oher good things to come from this study: the recommendation for the best sunbathing time was between the hours of 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM, exactly the times that most dermatologists say we should avoid like the plague.
A downside of the report was that the scientists recommended on 40% of the body surface to receive sun exposure. Whole-body exposure would have provided a lot more vitamin D and in a much shorter period of time. Another downside was the recommendation to achieve a serum vitamin D level of 20 ng/ml, which is woefully low. They should have recommended at least twice that level.
The report stated that “sunning” the babies would benefit more than 16 million born each year in India.
It is interesting that sometimes it takes a disaster like rickets for the truth to come full-circle and for common sense to prevail. For example, In the 1930s, when the medical community had not yet bought into the sun phobia of today, the Department of Labor printed a pamphlet called Sun for Babies in which they made this statement: “Every mother who wishes her baby to have robust health should give him regular sun baths from early infancy until he is old enough to play in the sun himself. If the sun’s rays are to help the baby grow properly and to prevent rickets, they must fall directly on the skin and tan it.” That would not be popular advice today, and it is likely that any parent practicing “baby tanning” would be arrested for child abuse. Since the 1930’s the dermatological profession has come a long way… in the wrong direction.
Other research related to bone growth in children shows that those who are growth-hormone deficient, and are being treated for that deficiency, grow more rapidly during summer months. In a one-year study using 118 children from 14 countries as subjects, growth was measured and compared to the amount of sun received by the children. Those who were exposed to more sun had faster growth.
The truth will prevail. The advice to keep children out of the sun has been an unmitigated disaster. Just be sure to keep them safe from sunburn.
 Research matters. 9/14/17. https://researchmatters.in/shots/infants-should-sunbath-30-minutes-week-recommends-study.
 De Leonibus C, Chatelain P, Knight C, Clayton P, Stevens A. Effect of summer daylight exposure and genetic background on growth in growth hormone-deficient children. Pharmacogenomics J. 2015 Oct 27.[Epub ahead of print].
A review published in the journal Nutrients discusses a great deal of research that indicates vitamin D provides protection against internal infection. It regulates both innate (inborn, quick acting, short lived) immunity and acquired (promoted by response to an invasive organism and producing a long-lasting effect) immunity.
The researchers extoll the virtues of vitamin D in increasing the strength of both forms of immunity, and state that vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk for various infections, including HIV, respiratory tract and HCV infection. However, when discussing the efficacy of vitamin D supplementation, they state that “robust data from controlled trials investigating the use of vitamin D as a preventive or therapeutic agent are missing.”
Unfortunately, the researchers indicate that sun exposure would be a good way to obtain vitamin D in correct amounts, but then destroy that argument by stating that …”UVB radiation is also the main cause of human skin cancer, thus it is difficult, if not impossible, to make a general recommendation to expose the skin to the sun for sufficient vitamin D synthesis.”
They are wrong, of course. Common skin cancers cause very few deaths, and melanoma, the deadly cancer, is far less common in people who are regularly exposed to sunlight, compared to those who avoid the sun. Outdoor workers have about half the risk of contracting melanoma as do indoor workers.
Another problem that the researchers have with sun exposure as a vitamin D source is this: People who live at high latitudes do not produce any vitamin D from sun exposure in the winter, because there is no UVB light at that time of year. My response to this is the following: Use UVB lamps or sunbeds. Such a suggestion would probably cause the authors of this researchers to melt down. I can hear them screaming “melanoma!” already. I would then direct them to a 20-year study from Sweden, which showed that women who used sunbeds during that 20 years had a 23% reduction in all-cause death risk compared to those who avoided sunbeds. And, they were not at increased risk of melanoma. Also, the subjects in the study who avoided sun exposure were twice as likely to die of any cause compared to those who had the highest sun exposure.
At almost any place on earth, we now have either the sunshine or UVB lamps that can give us the vitamin D we need and the other photoproducts that protect us from myriad diseases, including various infections. It is a shame that too many fail to take advantage.
 Juliana de Castro Kroner, Andrea Sommer and Mario Fabri. Vitamin D Every Day to Keep the Infection Away? Nutrients 2015, 7, 4170-4188.
 Godar D, Landry, R, Lucas, A. Increased UVA exposures and decreased cutaneous Vitamin D3 levels may be responsible for the increasing incidence of melanoma. Med Hypotheses 2009;72(4):434-43.
 Pelle G. Lindqvist, Elisabeth Epstein, Mona Landin-Olsson, Christian Ingvar, Kari Nielsen, Magnus Stenbeck & Håkan Olsson. 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.
BDNF is a factor in nerve growth and maturation, and is essential in synapse formation and plasticity. A lack of of it is implicated in psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, intellectual disability, autism and depression. Interestingly, it has been shown that unless there is sufficient BDNF in the brain, conventional antidepressants do not work very well, and when BDNF is infused directly into the brains of rodents, it produces an antidepressant effect.
It has also been shown that BDNF has a seasonal variation in concentration correlating with the amount of ambient sun; it increases in the spring and summer and decreases in fall and winter.  The authors of this research described the importance of their findings thusly: “This finding is important for our understanding of those factors regulating BDNF expression and may provide novel avenues to understand seasonal dependent changes in behavior and illness such as depression.”
BDNF has been shown to increase significantly after bright light exposure, and in what we would consider to be a remarkably important study, both light exposure and treadmill exercise increased its expression of
in rats, or 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? We are actually seeing an example of new brain cells being built by bright light and exercise. What a wonderful way to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and maintain mental sharpness into old age! Don’t forget your (safe) sunlight!
 Björkholma C, Monteggiab, L. BDNF — a key transducer of antidepressant effects. Neuropharmacology. 2016 March ; 102: 72–79.
 Siuciak JA, Lewis DR, Wiegand SJ, Lindsay RM. Antidepressant-like effect of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Pharmacol. Biochem. Behav. 1997; 56(1):131–137.
 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.
 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.
 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.
I have written several blogs making this melanoma case: not only is this deadly cancer not caused by sun exposure, but habitual, or regular, sun exposure has a protective effect against the disease. This blog will serve to reinforce and review the reasoning behind those conclusions.
A friend sent me a scientific paper that I had forgotten or missed—a paper by Dr. Veronique Bataille that brought out several supportive points about how sun exposure protects against the disease. Here are a few of the salient ideas from the paper:
- The increase in melanoma is mostly seen for the thin types, which can’t be attributed to sun exposure but to increasing screening over the last 20 years. The fact is, that incidence appears to increase as the number of dermatologists and public health campaigns also increase. But the increase in melanoma is not real. This idea is perfectly plausible; when more dermatologists are available, and the public is driven to them by health campaigns more melanomas are found. Many “first-stage” or thin “thin” melanomas are discovered and counted that would not have been found in previous decades. This causes numbers to be highly inflated compared to the days when there were fewer dermatologists and fewer public health campaigns.
Comment: Another fact was not mentioned in the paper: Stunningly, a worldwide study of melanoma diagnosis and accuracy, published in the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) showed that most diagnoses were incorrect. Approximately 44 different authors from many different clinics and countries, including the US, contributed to the report. They made an accuracy-in-detection analysis based on the actual number of melanomas that were excised during a period of ten years, compared with the number that really needed to be excised. Many clinics in different countries were involved in assessing the numbers. The AAD research showed that only about 3.5% of diagnoses in non-specialized clinics, and 14.7% in specialized clinics, resulted in actually being melanoma. From this information, it is evident that many melanoma surgeries are bogus and may inflate the incidence of this deadly skin cacner.
What do we take away from this? There may be no real increase in melanoma, only an increase in assessment and excision.
- Low vitamin D levels are common in melanoma patients and have a deleterious effect on their risk and survival.
Comment: Low vitamin D levels are caused by sunlight deprivation; we are told to avoid the sun, but sun avoidance leads to vitamin D deficiency, which further leads to melanoma. If our population regularly enjoyed non-burning sun exposure, vitamin D levels would be much higher and the risk of melanoma much lower. This is corroborated by the fact that people who habitually work outdoors have a far lower risk of the disease. Dr. Cedric Garland and his colleagues showed that those who worked indoors had a 50% greater risk of than those who worked both indoors and outdoors.
- An excess of naevi (moles), not sun exposure, is the strongest risk factor for melanoma, and when comparing the risk created by sunburns and fair skin to the risk created by an excess of moles, the moles create a 15-30 times higher risk.
Comment: Some very important research by Dr. Adele Green found that the strongest risk factor for both limb melanoma and trunk melanoma was the presence of more than 10 moles on the arm, which predicted a 42-times increased risk.  This means that public health campaigns should promote mole awareness! Unfortunately, they promote sun avoidance, which increases the risk of melanoma.
- Attempts to decrease melanoma incidence and mortality, by reducing sun exposure, has not been proven to work and may be harmful.
Comment: the statement is obviously true. In the U.S., Sun exposure has decreased by about 90% since 1935. During that same period, melanoma has increased by 3,000%. Data from the Bureau of Labor statistics showed that indoor occupations such as “professional, managerial, clerical, sales, and service workers (except private household service workers) grew from one-quarter to three-quarters of total employment between 1910 and 2000.” The BLS also stated, during the same period, the outdoor occupation of farming declined by 96% from 33% to 1.2% of total employment. The data also show approximately 66% of the decline in the occupation of farmers and 50% of the decline in the occupation of farm laborers occurred after 1935.
Further information, this time from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined as of 1986, about 5 percent of adult men worked mostly outside, and about 10 percent worked outside part of the time. The proportion of women who worked outside was thought to be even lower. These data demonstrate a dramatic shift from outdoor, sun-exposed activity to indoor, non-sun-exposed activity during the mid-to-late 20th Century. This change, nonetheless, has been accompanied by a 30-times increase in risk since 1935, the MIF-baseline year.
- Photoageing, which is skin ageing due to sunlight exposure, is not greater in melanoma patients than patients who do not have the disease. In fact, patients with the cancer exhibit less photoageing than those who do not have the disease.
Comment: This was a new research for me and it belied the idea that sun exposure caused melanoma. If sun exposure causes skin photoageing, and there is less photoageing on cancer sites, sun exposure cannot possibly be causing melanoma. Enough said.
We need our sunshine, and one of the reasons for that need is to prevent deadly cancers.
 Bataille V. Melanoma. Shall we move away from the sun and focus more on embryogenesis, body weight and longevity? Medical Hypotheses 81 (2013) 846–850.
 Argenziano G, Cerroni L, Zalaudek I, Staibano S, Hofmann-Wellenhof R, et al. Accuracy in melanoma detection: a 10-year multicenter survey.J Am Acad Dermatol. 2012 Jul;67(1):54-9.
 Garland FC, White MR, Garland CF, Shaw E, Gorham ED. Occupational sunlight exposure and melanoma in the U.S. Navy. Arch Environ Health. 1990 Sep-Oct;45(5):261-7.
 Green AC, Siskind V. Risk factors for limb melanomas compared with trunk melanomas in Queensland. Melanoma Res. 2012 Feb;22(1):86-91.
 Melanoma International Foundation, 2007 Facts about melanoma. Sources: National Cancer Institute 2007 SEER Database, American Cancer Society’s 2007 Facts and Figures, The Skin Cancer Foundation, The American Academy of Dermatology.
 US Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, Catching Our Breath: Next Steps for Reducing Urban Ozone, OTA-O-412 (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, July 1989).