By: Marc Sorenson, EdD Sunlight Institute–
I have often stated that melanoma is more common in people with type-1 (non-tanning, pale) skin, and that moles correlate to a higher risk of skin cancer regardless of sunlight exposure. Now, new research shows that the genetic makeup that accompanies red hair–not the amount of sun exposure–also correlates to an increased risk of melanoma. Read the article.
So what does this mean? Let’s stop attacking the sun and start addressing the real causes of skin cancers: 1. the presence of many moles on the skin[i], 2. Underexposure to sunlight[ii], 3. Lack of colorful fruits and vegetables in the diet[iii], 4. Drinking alcohol[iv], 5. Consumption of dairy products[v] and 6. Environmental pollutants such as PCBs.[vi] (see below for references). And of course, we have just established red hair as a risk factor for melanoma.
Exposure to sunlight has decreased dramatically in the last century, and sunscreen sales have exploded. During that same time there has been a concomitant exponential increase in melanoma. How then, can anyone in their right mind say that sunlight exposure causes melanoma? GET SERIOUS! The idea that sunlight causes melanoma, of course, is great way to sell sunscreens. Follow the money and you will discover the reasons for the promulgation of the sunlight/melanoma nonsense. Non-burning sunlight is our greatest friend and health enhancer. Check with your doctor before you make any changes in lifestyle.
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[iii] Hughes, M. et al. 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.
[iv] Millen et al,. Diet and Melanoma in a Case-Control Study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2004;13(6):1042-51
[v] Hughes, M. et al. Food intake and risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the skin in a community: The Nambour skin cancer cohort study. Int J Cancer. 2006;15;119:1953-60.
[vi] Gallagher RP, Macarthur AC, Lee TK, et al. Plasma levels of polychlorinated biphenyls and risk of cutaneous malignant melanoma: a preliminary study. Int J Cancer 2011;15;128:1872-80.