Sun exposure and Leukemia. Protect yourself from this disease by enjoying the sun!

Sun exposure and Leukemia. Protect yourself from this disease by enjoying the sun!

By Marc Sorenson, EdD  Sunlight Institute…

Leukemia is a cancer of the bone marrow that prevents the normal manufacture of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. It can lead to infection, impaired blood clotting and anemia. The good news is that embracing the sun may have a profoundly protective effect against this deadly disease.

Consider this research by Dr. Timo Tomonen and his colleagues that showed a very close relationship between sun deprivation and acute myeloid leukemia.[1] The researchers stated that “During the light season, the incidence decreased by 58% (95% confidence interval, 16–79%) per 1,000 kJ/m2/d increase of solar radiation.” In Finland, It has also been shown that deficiency of sunlight (and perhaps cold weather) was associated with excessive diagnoses when compared to diagnoses in in the sunlit, warm season. Other research has indicated that sun exposure during mothers’ pregnancies reduced the risk of leukemia and other cancers in their children.[2]

Finally, in a laboratory study using UVA irradiation of leukemia cells, it was found that such radiation caused rapid apoptosis (natural cell death) in the exposed cells.[3] UVA, of course, is the major ultraviolet component of the solar radiation that reaches the earth. UVA also has been shown to cause a marked decline in the proliferation of leukemia cells.[4] Proliferation is the process of rapid growth and multiplication of cancer cells. So it appears that sun exposure has two more positive attributes for preventing cancers: it has the ability to hasten the death of cancer cells and to retard the tendency of cancer cells to grow and multiply out-of-control. It is also interesting to note, although the researchers did not mention it, that UVA exposure does not cause the production of vitamin D, which means that some other mechanism of sun exposure was responsible for the positive results. Vitamin D is a wonderful photoproduct of sun exposure, but positive benefits of other photoproducts are available. When we substitute vitamin D supplements for sun exposure we may make a critical mistake and increase our risk of leukemia and other diseases. Nothing is a match for habitual, safe sun exposure, but sun lamps would be a close second.

The sun is a natural protector against leukemia. What more need we say?

[1] Timo Timonen, Simo Näyhä, Tapani Koskela, Eero Pukkala.  Are sun deprivation and influenza epidemics associated with the onset of acute leukemia?  Haematologica 2007; 92 (11):1553-56.

[2] Christina Lombardi, Julia E. Heck, Myles Cockburn, and Beate Ritz. Solar UV Radiation and Cancer in Young Children. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2013;22:1118-1128.

[3] Zhuang S, Kochevar IE. Ultraviolet A radiation induces rapid apoptosis of human leukemia cells by Fas ligand-independent activation of the Fas death pathways. Photochem Photobiol. 2003 Jul;78(1):61-7.

[4] Leszczynski D, Fagerholm S, Leszczynski K. The effects of the broadband UVA radiation on myeloid leukemia cells: the possible role of protein kinase C in mediation of UVA-induced effects. Photochem Photobiol. 1996 Dec;64(6):936-42.

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