Sunlight does not Cause Melanoma. Why Must we keep Fighting this Battle?

Sunlight does not Cause Melanoma. Why Must we keep Fighting this Battle?

By: Marc Sorenson, Sunlight Institute–


An article on the ABC website[1] poses the following question: “If sun exposure causes skin cancers, how is it that some skin cancers grow in body parts that never see the light of day?” It then follows up by listing several areas where skin cancers occur: “Between the toes, on the soles of the feet, even around the genitals … skin cancers can appear on body parts that rarely or never see the sun.”

They then quote the CEO from Cancer Council Australia, Professor Ian Oliver, who tells us that the sun’s ultraviolet light (UVR) is by far and away the major cause of skin cancers. If he is talking about melanoma, he is dead wrong. And if he is talking about common skin cancers, how many of those cancers are found in or on the aforementioned areas of the body? This is a misguided effort to “frighten the daylights out of the people to frighten them out of the daylight” as said Dr. Michael Holick, a great vitamin D researcher.

Let’s make it clear that this effort is aimed at melanoma, the deadly skin cancer that does indeed occur in areas that are seldom or never exposed to sunlight. To say that UVR (sun exposure) is far and away the major cause of skin cancer (melanoma) is simply untrue. Mr. Oliver is not a liar, but he has obviously not read the research. He is terribly misguided if he believes that sunlight is the causal factor in the disease. Let’s look at the facts:

Sunlight exposure dramatically decreased in the US during the 20th Century, and Melanoma increased by at least 30-fold during that time.[2] Concomitantly, the percentage of outdoor workers, those most likely to be exposed to sunlight, decreased dramatically; for example, the outdoor occupation of farming decreased from 33% to 1.2% of total employment[3], a 96% reduction. Further information from the EPA determined that as of 1986, about 5 percent of adult men worked mostly outdoors, and that about 10 percent worked outside part of the time. The proportion of women who worked outside was thought to be lower. It becomes quite obvious that as sunlight exposure has profoundly decreased, the risk of melanoma has skyrocketed.

Furthermore, other research demonstrates that outdoor workers, while receiving 3-9 times the sunlight exposure as indoor workers, have had no increase in melanoma since 1940, whereas melanoma incidence in indoor workers has increased exponentially.[4] [5] From that information, one could reasonably conclude that regular, outdoor sunlight exposure protects against melanoma. There are at least a dozen more studies in the professional literature that corroborate that those who live indoors have far more melanoma than those who live outdoors.[6]

If sunlight exposure is the reason for the increase in melanoma, we would expect that areas of the body that receive the most exposure would also be the areas of greatest occurrence of the disease. Mr. Oliver believes that this is the case, but it is not. As to the distribution of melanomas in “unexpected” areas, the scientific literature points out that there are higher rates on the trunk (seldom exposed to sunlight) than on the head and arms (commonly exposed to sunlight).[7] Others research demonstrates that melanomas in women occur primarily on the upper legs, and in men more frequently on the back—areas of little sunlight exposure.[8] In African Americans, melanoma is more common on the soles of the feet and on the lower legs, where exposure to sunlight is almost non-existent.[9] According to these facts, if there is a relationship between sunlight exposure and melanoma, the relationship is inverse—the greater the exposure, the less the risk of melanoma

For more information on this subject, see my earlier blog: Exposing-sunlightmelanoma-fraud-part-1

My hope is that you will learn the facts presented here and become a good soldier in the battle to protect the Sun, our greatest friend.



[2] Melanoma International Foundation, 2007 Facts about melanoma.

[3] Ian D. Wyatt and Daniel E. Hecker. Occupational changes in the 20th century. Monthly Labor Review, March 2006 pp 35-57: Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

[4] Godar DE, Landry RJ, Lucas AD. Increased UVA exposures and decreased cutaneous Vitamin D3 levels may be responsible for the increasing incidence of melanoma. Med hypothesis (2009), doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2008.09.056 –

[5] Godar D. UV doses worldwide. Photochem Photobiol 2005;81:736–49.

[6] Lee J. Melanoma and exposure to sunlight. Epidemiol Rev 1982;4:110–36.
Vågero D, Ringbäck G, Kiviranta H. Melanoma and other tumors of the skin among office, other indoor and outdoor workers in Sweden 1961–1979 Brit J Cancer 1986;53:507–12.
Kennedy C, Bajdik CD, Willemze R, De Gruijl FR, Bouwes Bavinck JN; Leiden Skin Cancer Study. The influence of painful sunburns and lifetime sun exposure on the risk of actinic keratoses, seborrheic warts, melanocytic nevi, atypical nevi, and skin cancer. Invest Dermatol 2003;120:1087–93.
Garland FC, White MR, Garland CF, Shaw E, Gorham ED. Occupational sunlight exposure and melanoma in the USA Navy. Arch Environ Health 1990; 45:261-67. Kaskel P, Sander S, Kron M, Kind P, Peter RU, Krähn G. Outdoor activities in childhood: a protective factor for cutaneous melanoma? Results of a case-control study in 271 matched pairs. Br J Dermatol 2001;145:602-09.
Garsaud P, Boisseau-Garsaud AM, Ossondo M, Azaloux H, Escanmant P, Le Mab G. Epidemiology of cutaneous melanoma in the French West Indies (Martinique). Am J Epidemiol 1998;147:66-8.
Le Marchand l, Saltzman S, Hankin JH, Wilkens LR, Franke SJM, Kolonel N. Sun exposure, diet and melanoma in Hawaii Caucasians. Am J Epidemiol 2006;164:232-45.
Armstong K, Kricker A. The epidemiology of UV induced skin cancer. J Photochem Biol 2001;63:8-18
Crombie IK. Distribution of malignant melanoma on the body surface. Br J Cancer 1981;43:842-9.
Crombie IK. Variation of melanoma incidence with latitude in North America and Europe. Br J Cancer 1979;40:774-81.
Weinstock MA, Colditz,BA, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ. Bronstein, BR, Speizer FE. Nonfamilial cutaneous melanoma incidence in women associated with sun exposure before 20 years of age. Pediatrics 1989;84:199-204.
Tucker MA, Goldstein AM. Melanoma etiology: where are we? Oncogene 20f03;22:3042-52.
Berwick M, Armstrong BK, Ben-Porat L, Fine J, Kricker A, Eberle C. Sun exposure and mortality from melanoma. J Nat Cancer Inst 2005;97:95-199.
Veierød MB, Weiderpass E, Thörn M, Hansson J, Lund E, Armstrong B. A prospective study of pigmentation, sun exposure, and risk of cutaneous malignant melanoma in women. J Natl Cancer Inst 2003;95:1530-8.
Oliveria SA, Saraiya M, Geller AC, Heneghan MK, Jorgensen C. Sun exposure and risk of melanoma. Arch Dis Child 2006;91:131-8.
Elwood JM, Gallagher RP, Hill GB, Pearson JCG. Cutaneous melanoma in relation to intermittent and constant sun exposure—the western Canada melanoma study. Int J Cancer 2006;35:427-33

[7] Garland FC, White MR, Garland CF, Shaw E, Gorham ED. Occupational sunlight exposure and melanoma in the USA Navy. Arch Environ Health 1990; 45:261-67.

[8] Rivers, J. Is there more than one road to melanoma? Lancet 2004;363:728-30.

[9] Crombie, I. Racial differences in melanoma incidence. Br J Cancer 1979;40:185-93.

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