By Catherine Stack–
Living in Western New York is a bit challenging when the long winters lead into a chilly, dreary spring. It is no wonder that our Vitamin D levels are exceptionally low and our cancer rates are exceedingly high.
Warm, sunny days are just around the corner and if you are anything like me, you will want to spend every possible minute outside. Will I avoid the sun because I think it causes cancer? Absolutely not! Will I slather my skin with brand named SPF 50? Absolutely never! Believe it or not, growing up near the ocean and spending many summer days on the beach actually decreased my risk for skin cancer.
Yes, I do need to protect my sun-deprived skin from burning when I travel to the Caribbean during the winter months. Burning will accelerate the aging process and I do not need or want any help in that department. During the summer months, sunscreen is only applied if I will be out all day.
It is now common knowledge that adequate Vitamin D3 levels protect you against at least 22 different types of cancers including breast, colon and prostate cancer. You want your levels above between 55-100ng/ml to protect yourself so supplementation is necessary. Up to 2000iu daily will not raise a low level — you need more. Sun exposure is Mother Nature’s natural resource for Vitamin D — and to our detriment, we have become well versed in hiding from it. We have been bombarded with scare tactics that would lead us to think sunshine is unhealthy and even causes cancer. There is nothing further from the truth.
A lack of sunshine has been linked to depression, bone loss, heart disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis and more. Does being outside on a sunny day lift your spirits? Sure it does. Your body needs sunlight the same way it needs essential nutrients to optimize health.
Has anyone noticed the incidence of skin cancer has dramatically increased since we have been slathering on sunscreen and hiding from the sun? Melanoma (the deadly skin cancer) rates have risen 1,800 percent since our grandparent’s generation. Most individuals I know who have been diagnosed with melanoma have never been sun worshipers or had jobs that kept them outdoors. Those working outdoors have the lowest risk of this deadly form of skin cancer.
There are actually three kinds of skin cancer. Basil cell and squamous cell carcinomas are more commonly seen with frequent sun exposure over many years but are rarely fatal with early detection. The sun is a contributing factor but it is the internal environment that makes you likely or unlikely to be a candidate for cancer. Melanoma is a deadly form of skin cancer. If melanoma rates were associated with sun exposure, we would see higher rates in sunny climates — but the opposite is actually true.
A cumulative overview of all the published research was reported in the International Journal of Cancer. The report reveals people with “heavy occupational exposure” to the sun have a significantly lower risk of melanoma.
As summer approaches, daily exposure to the sun in small to moderate quantities will actually improve your health and your mood. Enjoy this time of the year and don’t hide from the sun — it is one of my favorite supplements.
Catherine Stack is a doctor of naturopathy and certified nurse midwife. Her practice is located at Journey II Health in Niagara Falls. She can be reached at 298-8603 or at her website at journeyiihealth.com.