Tag Archives: melanoma

Sunscreens and toothpaste? Please, no!

Sunscreens are not toothpaste. By Marc Sorenson, EdD.Beware the sunscreens

Sunscreens, in Australia and New Zealand, are being touted as absolutely indispensable to prevent of skin cancer. And, this has been the mantra for decades. So, experts from the two countries convened to obtain opinions and produce a statement regarding use of sunscreens.[1] Much as I expected, they concluded people should apply sunscreen daily when the UV index reaches 3. And for much of Australia, that means every day.

Thus, as a result of this declaration, a major Australian newspaper weighed in. They stated “Make it like brushing your teeth:”[2] https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/make-it-like-brushing-your-teeth-experts-urge-daily-sunscreen-use-20190124-p50thn.html.  Rather convenient for those who produce sunscreens, no? If this advice is taken to heart by the people, sunscreen manufacturers and their stockholders will make a fortune. However, I guarantee that the people will suffer.

Increasing use of sunscreens and skin cancer through Slip, Slop, Slap.

It is especially relevant that Australians have been using a campaign called Slip, Slop Slap for decades. The campaign pushes everyone to avoid the sun and use sunscreens. And, according to Cancer Council Australia (the biggest manufacturer of sunscreens in Australia and New Zealand), it is remarkably effective.[3] Thus they state, “The Slip Slop Slap slogan has become institutionalized as the core message of Cancer Council’s SunSmart program.” And, they say the campaign has played a key role in the shift in sun protection behavior over two decades. (The program has actually been used for about three decades.) Because of this program, Australians and New Zealanders use more sunscreens than any other countries on earth, and the use of sunscreens continues to rise. But as a result of this sunscreen use, has skin cancer diminished?

How are the sunscreens promotions working for the health of the Australian people?

First of all, this is not new information; it has been known for decades. Dr. David Myers, a dermatologist, thus wrote an article that contains this statement: “The Australian experience provides the first clue. The rise in melanoma has been exceptionally high in Queensland where the medical establishment has long and vigorously promoted the use of sunscreens. Queensland now has more incidence of melanoma per capita than any other place. Worldwide, the greatest rise in melanoma has been experienced in countries where chemical sunscreen have been heavily promoted.”[4] [5]

And Dr. Cedric Garland echoed that statement, saying that Queensland, Australia has vigorously promoted sunscreens for decades. And he also says that Queensland now has one of highest rates of melanoma in the world.[6] [In addition, the rate of vitamin D deficiency there is becoming critical.[7]]Sunscreens lead to melanoma?

Does the Australian sunscreen declaration run up against some inconvenient truths?

So, we have a declaration suggesting that we should use sunscreens regularly like toothpaste.  The declaration obviously implies that sunscreens are protective against skin cancer in Australia. It is hard to explain that conclusion. Why? Because the long-term, exponentially increasing use of sunscreens has been accompanied by an exponential increase in skin-cancer incidence. Therefore, if sunscreens are protective against skin cancer, there is something very wrong with that history.

And, unfortunately, skin cancer also continues to rise. Hence, Australia and New Zealand have more skin cancer than any other country on earth.[8] [9] It seems like this emphasis on sunscreens has not worked. So we come up with this new formula. More use of sunscreens over the years=higher risk of skin cancer. And, it appears that they want to continue using this formula!

But of course, the “experts’” solution is to ignore the historical facts and promote the use of more sunscreens. It seems like these people have not heard the old saying: “Doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results, is the definition of insanity.” So, shall we be as dedicated to sun screen use as we are to brushing our teeth?  Shall we make the use of sunscreens like the use of toothpaste? I have a secret for the people who promote sunscreens: Sunscreens are nothing like toothpaste, because toothpaste may actually accomplish something.

Should North America adopt this Australian recommendation of daily use?

First of all, according to the main research used for this recommendation, the answer is a big NO. One of the Australian researchers, Adele Green, made this statement:  “Although the results are directly relevant to people who live in sunny climates like Australia’s and who receive relatively high levels of ambient sun exposure as a matter of course, they also have implications for white people living in temperate climates in North America and Europe who are at increased risk of melanoma because of increased solar UV exposure caused by the predilection for holidays in sunny places.” So they are saying sunscreens are NOT required unless on sunny holidays or if you have a sunburning risk. This doesn’t sound like a recommendation for daily use in North America. And, as European research demonstrated, it is certainly not a useful recommendation for Europe. (See the heading below regarding Europe.)

North American research on sunscreens and skin cancer

Another piece of research[10] looked at sunscreen use in North America and stated the following; “In contrast, for people who live at higher latitudes where UV radiation is weaker and less constant, regular sunscreen use may provide less protection against skin cancer, or even increase the risk of carcinogenesis.” The paper goes on to say “While the current evidence suggests no increased risk of skin cancer related to sunscreen, this systematic review and meta-analysis does not confirm the expected protective benefits of sunscreen use against skin cancer in the general population.” So again, this is NOT a recommendation for daily use of sunscreens. And, it indicates they may do more harm than good.

Are sunscreens counterproductive?

So it appears, based on what has been written so far, that sunscreens may be worthless at best and dangerous at worst. Another recent scientific study on sunscreens and sunburns corroborates this conclusion.[11] The authors of this study expected an outcome opposite of the facts. The goal was to discover which sun-protection behavior, including use of sunscreens, was most effective in preventing sunburn. Hence, they designed a cross-sectional investigation using a nationally representative sample of about 32,000 U.S. adults. And, those conducting the research interviewed each participant in person. This is especially relevant when attempting to achieve the most accurate results possible. We can conclude, therefore, that their findings regarding sunscreen use and other “sun-protective” behaviors have validity. Those other sun-protective behaviors included seeking shade, wearing a hat or visor, and wearing long sleeves and pants.

Sunscreens and sunburn results

In addition, the subjects were identified as sun-sensitive individuals or non-sun-sensitive individuals. Fifty-four percent of the subjects were women, and 15,992 of all individuals were considered sun-sensitive. It is most noteworthy that among sun-sensitive individuals, those who used only sunscreens had the highest sunburn likelihood (62.4%). The group with lowest likelihood of sunburn did not use sunscreens but engaged in the other protective behaviors (24.3% sunburned). In addition, among 12,566 non–sun-sensitive individuals, those engaged in all 4 protective behaviors had the lowest sunburn risk (6.6%). And in that group, the highest likelihood of sunburn was among those who only used sunscreen (26.2%). According to Dr. Kasey Morris, who led the study, “the most surprising and counterintuitive finding was that regular sunscreen use, in the absence of other protective behaviors, was associated with the highest likelihood of sunburn.”[12] 

What do dermatologists believe about sunscreen and sunburn?

I have never heard of a dermatologist who didn’t believe that sunburns led to skin cancer. And I have only seldom heard of dermatologists who didn’t believe that sunscreens prevented sunburns. This research turns their beliefs about sunscreen upside down.

I have also been told that the reason sunburn occurs with the use of sunscreens, is this: People get a false sense of safety while using sunscreens. Consequently, they stay out in the sun for excessively long times. To me that doesn’t matter. If sunscreen leads to sunburn, which leads to skin cancer, who cares what the reason is? When using a poison, does it matter what the mechanism of poisoning is if the patient dies? Why use a product that causes harm?

Other sunburn results with sunscreens

Finally, it has been known since 2014 that sunscreen use associates closely with sunburning.[13] Therefore, sunscreens are not good products. We should protect ourselves from overexposure to the sun the way God (or Mother Nature, if you prefer) intended it.  1. Cover up when you start to redden, 2. seek shade or 3. go indoors. And remember that good health depends on obtaining regular, non-burning sun exposure.

Another reason to avoid sunscreens

The state of Hawaii has now banned this noxious product. This is because of the destruction of the coral reefs caused by certain ingredients in this chemical soup. In addition, we know that since the first sunscreens were introduced, the risk of melanoma skin cancer has increased. How much? By about 3,000%. And yes, you read that correctly. If you have other questions, read the sunscreen section of my new book, Embrace the Sun,.https://www.amazon.com/Embrace-Sun-Marc-B-Sorenson/dp/069207600X 

Use of sunscreens in Europe

Another important study demonstrates that sunscreens do not help prevent melanoma.[14] The researchers’ goal was to determine the efficacy of sunscreens in preventing melanoma. Hence, they compared melanoma rates with sales in 24 countries in Europe, during the period of 1997-1999 to 2008 and 2012. They found that higher income people had significantly higher melanoma incidence. And, increased sunscreen use had not prevented higher income populations from being at higher risk of melanoma. Consequently, we see this equation again: Higher sunscreen use=higher melanoma risk! One of the reasons for this little-known relationship is most noteworthy. Up to 99% of vitamin D production is stopped by sunscreen.[15] Therefore, many of the health benefits of sun are voided.

Summary on sunscreens and sunlight:

The best sunscreen, when you need it, is covering your skin with clothing, or going indoors. Stay away from the noxious chemicals. Be sure to obtain some non-burning sunlight whenever possible.

Happy sunning!


[1] David C. Whiteman, Rachel E. Neale, Joanne Aitken, Louisa Gordon, Adele C. Green, Monika Janda, Catherine M. Olsen, H. Peter Soyer, on behalf of the Sunscreen Summit Policy Group. When to apply sunscreen: a consensus statement for Australia and New Zealand. When to apply sunscreen: a consensus statement for Australia and New Zealand.

[2] https://www.theage.com.au/national/queensland/make-it-like-brushing-your-teeth-experts-urge-daily-sunscreen-use-20190124-p50thn.html

[3] https://www.cancer.org.au/preventing-cancer/sun-protection/campaigns-and-events/slip-slop-slap-seek-slide.html

[4] http://www.yourhealthbase.com/sunscreens.htm

[5] Garland, Cedric F., et al. Could sunscreens increase melanoma risk? American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 82, No. 4, April 1992, pp. 614-15

[6] Garland CF, Garland FC, Gorham ED. Could sunscreens increase melanoma risk? American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 82, No. 4, il 1992, pp. 614-15.

[7] Van der Mei IA, Ponsonby AL, Engelsen O, Pasco JA, McGrath JJ, Eyles DW, Blizzard L, Dwyer T, Lucas R, Jones G. A high vitamin D insufficiency across Australian populations and latitude. Environmental Health Perspect 2007;115:1132-39.

[8] https://www.rightdiagnosis.com/news/skin_cancer_rate_increasing_in_australia.htm.

[9] https://www.sciencelearn.org.nz/resources/1329-nz-skin-cancer-statistics

[10] Elizabet saes da SILVA, Roberto TAVARES, Felipe da silva PAULITSCH, Linjie ZHANG. Use of sunscreen and risk of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur J Dermatol 2018; 28(2): 186-201.

[11] Kasey L. Morris, PhD; Frank M. Perna, EdD, PhD. Decision Tree Model vs Traditional Measures to Identify Patterns of Sun-Protective Behaviors and Sun Sensitivity Associated With Sunburn. JAMA Dermatol. Published online June 27, 2018

[12] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-sunburns/sun-sensitive-people-need-more-than-sunscreen-to-avoid-sunburn-idUSKBN1K02RB

[13] https://www.webmd.com/beauty/news/20110714/sunscreen-users-more-likely-burn#4

[14] Williams SN, Dienes KA. Sunscreen Sales, Socio-Economic Factors, and Melanoma Incidence in Northern Europe: A Population-Based Ecological Study. SAGE Open October-December 2014: 1–6.

[15] Matsuoka LY, Ide L, Wortsman J, MacLaughlin JA, Holick MF. Sunscreens suppress cutaneous vitamin D3 synthesis. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 1987; 64:1165-68.

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Sunlight for Public Health. Common sense prevails!

Sunlight is essential for public healthSunlight improves public health. By Marc Sorenson, EdD.

An excellent new paper by Dr. Hoel and Dr. de Gruijl is titled “Sun Exposure Public Health Directives.” It decries the vilification of sunlight and suggests people return to its healthful rays.[1] https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/15/12/2794/htm

So is dermatology awakening to the truth about sunlight?

And one of the authors, Dr. de Gruijl, works at a dermatology department in the Netherlands. He is also a photobiologist and melanoma skin cancer research specialist. It seems like the dermatology world is returning to common sense, since other dermatologists have lately suggested more sunlight exposure. And well they should suggest more sunlight! Sunlight can save millions of lives, yet much of the population is dying in the dark due to misinformation. Many dermatologists consider sunlight exposure to be a killer, and thus frighten their patients away from sun exposure. Why? Because they are fearful of skin damage from sunlight, something they need not fear if they advise their patients properly.

Sunlight and skin cancer: the truth

One of my pet peeves is the statement that “sunlight causes cancer.” First of all, there are about 18 major cancers that are reduced by sunlight. And in addition, there are also myriad non-cancer maladies that are reduced or eliminated by safe sun exposure. These disorders run the gamut from arthritis and heart disease to psoriasis, erectile dysfunction and osteoporosis.[2] Secondly, not even skin cancer is caused by sun exposure unless people burn themselves. Therefore, it is a lack of both caution and common sense that leads to skin damage. The authors state that the public has been taught that health benefits of sun exposure are limited to bone health. That is another egregious error (italics mine).

The aforementioned paper reads almost like a synopsis of Embrace the Sun, the book by Marc Sorenson and William Grant,

Here are the major points on sunlight that make the research in the paper so compelling:

  1. There is a public health message that “overexposure” to the sun causes skin cancer. Nevertheless, those who promote this message do not define overexposure. Therefore, due to the lack of a definition, the public is led to believe that sun exposure is an enemy. In addition, the public is not educated regarding the detriments of “sun avoidance,” or should we say “underexposure.” Due to this omission, the public is exposed to disability, destruction and death (italics mine).

Sunlight deprivation: the staggering cost to human health

Consequently, in Embrace the Sun, we calculated the number of deaths due to diseases associated with high sunlight exposure. And, we then calculated the number of deaths due to diseases associated with sunlight deprivation. As a result, we determined that approximately 1,684,677 yearly deaths are caused by diseases associated with sunlight deprivation. Also, there were about 5125 deaths from diseases associated with high sunlight exposure, producing a ratio of approximately 328.7:1. This is most noteworthy! 328 deaths were associated with diseases of sun deprivation for each death associated with diseases of sun exposure. So, what do you think?

So, is sunlight avoidance risk free?

  1. Furthermore, the paper states that people believe sun avoidance is risk free. That is a colossal error as previously stated,
  2. Another mistake is to believe vitamin D supplements are an adequate substitute for sunlight. That is simply not so. Sun exposure causes the production of serotonin, nitric oxide, endorphin, brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), dopamine and urocanic acid. All of these substances are vital for human health and wellbeing.
  3. Another important point stated by the authors is as follows: “This public health message is potentially causing significant harm to public health and should be changed immediately.” And, based on the analysis from Embrace the Sun, mentioned above, that should be an easy conclusion.

Is there an inverse association between sunlight and melanoma?

  1. The authors also state that melanoma risk is reduced by non-burning sun exposure. And only severe sunburns increase risk. In addition, they mention that melanoma in the U.S. has steadily increased at an annual rate of 3–4%.  There was 1 case per 100,000 in 1935, when accurate records were established. Yet, there were 25.8 cases per 100,000 in 2015. [That is about a 2,600% increase!]

Our analysis of melanoma in Embrace the Sun was almost identical. It showed a 3,000% increase in melanoma risk accompanied by a 90% decrease in sunlight exposure from 1935 to 2015. And, Sunscreen use also increased dramatically during that period, meaning that more sunscreen use is associated with greater melanoma risk.

And should we use sunscreens to reduce sunlight damage?

The answer to that question is “of course not.”

I was surprised that nothing was said about sunscreens, while I was considering the authors’ comment on severe sunburns,  Why? Because recent research has shown that persons who use sunscreens have 4-6 times greater risk of sunburn.[3] In addition, the same research showed that the greatest protection against burning was to seek shade or cover up. Imagine that! Also, a recent meta-analysis showed that sunscreen use made absolutely no difference in the risk of skin cancer.[4].

  1. The authors also make it clear that the common assertion—that tanned skin affords insignificant protection against sunburn—is not correct.
  2. In conclusion, the commentary made this statement: “All persons in the world regardless of skin color or latitude of residence, other than those with extraordinary sensitivity to sunlight, should get enough sun exposure to maintain a serum 25(OH)D level well over 20 ng/mL (desirably at 30–60 ng/mL) while taking care to avoid sunburn.

I agree and would like to reiterate that vitamin D supplements are not an adequate substitute for sunlight. Consequently, these measurements should be used only among those who do not take supplements. That is, if we expect to really measure sunlight exposure.

Embrace the Sun is available here.  Sunlight for public health

Happy sunning!

[1] Hoel D, de Gruijl, F. Sun Exposure Public Health Directives. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018;15:2794

[2] Sorenson, Marc, Grant, WB. Embrace the Sun. Sorenson, Publisher 2018. Available at Amazon.

[3] Kasey L. Morris, PhD; Frank M. Perna, EdD, PhD. Decision Tree Model vs Traditional Measures to Identify Patterns of Sun-Protective Behaviors and Sun Sensitivity Associated With Sunburn. JAMA Dermatol. Published online June 27, 2018.

[4] Elizabet saes da SILVA, Roberto TAVARES, Felipe da silva PAULITSCH, Linjie ZHANG. Eur J Dermatol 2018; 28(2): 186-201.

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Melanoma risk: reduced by high vitamin D and Sunlight

Melanoma risk between persons with high and low vitamin D levels

Melanoma Risk By Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institutemelanoma risk is not caused by sun exposure

The risk directly associates with low levels of vitamin D. That is the conclusion of recent study published in the European Journal of Cancer.[1] The investigators measured the blood vitamin D levels of 137 subjects who had been diagnosed with melanoma. They collected the blood samples at the time of diagnosis of the disease. Another group of 99 healthy subjects served as the control group. The investigators collected the samples of the control group between October and April. The scientists then compared the blood collections of the melanoma group with those of the control group. They then determined whether vitamin D levels had an association with melanoma risk.

The study produced convincing results regarding vitamin D and melanoma risk.

The results were as follows:

  1. The controls (no melanoma) had vitamin D levels 50% higher than the melanoma group (27.8 ng/ml vs. 18 ng/ml).
  2. 66.2% of the melanoma group had vitamin D “deficiency,” compared to only 15.2% of the health controls. The scientists defined vitamin D deficiency as being equal to or less than 20 ng/ml. So, the melanoma group had more than four-times the risk of deficiency.
  3. The scientists defined vitamin D “sufficiency” as being equal to or greater than 30 ng/ml. They found that only 7.4% of melanoma patients were sufficient, compared to 37.4% of healthy controls. Hence, the melanoma group had about one-fifth the likelihood of having sufficient D levels.

More scientific analysis on vitamin D measurements vs. melanoma risk

The scientists then adjusted the data for possible confounding factors such as age, sex and body mass. Then, they performed an analysis that showed the following:

  1. First of all, the science demonstrated a significant inverse association with vitamin D sufficiency versus deficiency. Those who had sufficient levels had only 4% of the melanoma risk when compared to those who were deficient! Hence, this demonstrates that those with the lowest vitamin D levels (after adjusting for confounding factors) had 25-times the melanoma risk!
  2. And, vitamin D insufficiency vs. deficiency was significantly inversely associated with melanoma. Those who were insufficient had a definite advantage over those who were deficient. They had only 13% of the melanoma risk.

Now, this is the most important point about melanoma risk:

In addition, this research proves conclusively that sun deprivation is a major cause of melanoma. I say this because about 90% of serum vitamin D is produced by sun exposure to the skin.[2] So, the aforementioned research is really research on sun exposure. It shows that regular sun exposure leads to a profound reduction in melanoma risk. Therefore, Vitamin D levels are surrogate measurements for sun exposure in nearly every case.

Could sunlight increase health through photoproducts beyond vitamin D?

In conclusion: My new book, Embrace the Sun (coauthored by Dr. William Grant), notes that sun exposure provides more than vitamin D. It also provides other photoproducts such as nitric oxide, serotonin, endorphin, and brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF). All of these photoproducts are vital to human health. Could these photoproducts have a positive and protective effect against melanoma risk beyond vitamin D? And, vitamin D produced by sunlight may be superior to that given in pill form.

Finally, this research gives us one more reason to embrace the sun safely without burning. And who would have thought that safe sunlight could be one of the best prophylactics against melanoma risk?

Happy sunning!

The book is available at Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Embrace-Sun-Marc-B-Sorenson/dp/069207600X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1533923845&sr=8-1&keywords=embrace+the+sun+sorenson

1] Cattaruzza MS, Pisani D, Fidanza L, Gandini S, Marmo G, Narcisi A, Bartolazzi A, Carlesimo M. 25-Hydroxyvitamin D serum levels and melanoma risk: a case-control study and evidence synthesis of clinical epidemiological studies. Eur J Cancer Prev. 2018 Feb 12. [Epub ahead of print]

[2] Reichrath J. The challenge resulting from positive and negative effects of sun: how much solar UV exposure is appropriate to balance between risks of vitamin D deficiency and skin cancer? Prog Biophys Mol Biol 2006;92(1):9-16

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What is the real cause of melanoma? It’s not sunlight!

What do you know about melanoma?melanoma is not caused by sun exposure

May is Melanoma Awareness Month, Therefore, we will discuss some truths to be aware of:

  • First of all, seventy-five percent of these cancers occur on areas of the body that are seldom or never exposed to sunlight.[1] For example, research has shown that melanomas in women occur primarily on the upper legs, and in men more frequently on the back—areas of little sun exposure.
  • Most noteworthy, in the U.S., sun exposure has decreased by about 90% since 1935. In the same time, melanoma incidence has increased by 3,000%! [2] [3] [4]

Dr. Diane Godar furnishes this exceptionally important melanoma information:[5]

  • The same as in the US, while sun exposure in Europe has profoundly decreased, there has been a spectacular increase in the disease.
  • Men who work outdoors have about half the risk as men who work indoors. Hence, sun exposure could not me the cause.
  • in addition, outdoor workers, while receiving 3-9 times the sun exposure as indoor workers, have had no increase in melanoma since before 1940, whereas the incidence in indoor workers has increased steadily and exponentially.
  • Especially relevant is that sunscreen invention, along with its steadily increasing use, has not reduced the risk of melanoma. Rather, the disease has increased as sunscreen use has increased.
  • Increasing melanoma incidence significantly correlates with decreasing personal annual sunlight exposure.
  • Also, outdoor workers get many sunburns but still have dramatically lower risk of contracting the disease.

So, since melanoma increases as sun exposure decreases, should we continue to blame the sun?

Here are more facts you should know about the causes of melanoma:

  • First of all, people in the highest quintile (fifth) of alcohol consumption have a 65% increase in risk.[6]
  • Weekly meat consumption increases the risk of melanoma by 84% and daily fruit consumption reduces the risk by nearly 50%.[7]
  • Furthermore, those with the highest levels of blood PCBs have 7-times the risk compared to those with the lowest levels.[8]
  • Recent use of Viagra is associated with an 84% increase in risk, and long-term use of the drug is associated with a 92% risk increase.[9]
  • Finally, there is a positive association between melanoma and obesity.[10]

Furthermore, Dr. Adele Green found that the strongest risk factor for both limb and trunk melanoma was moles. The presence of more than 10 moles on the arm predicted a 42-times increased risk.[11]

Therefore, please stop blaming the sun. Safely embrace the non-burning sun and reduce your risk of melanoma.


[1] Crombie IK. Distribution of malignant melanoma on the body surface.Br J Cancer. 1981 Jun;43(6):842-9.

[2] 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.

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

[4] 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).

[5] Stephen J Merrill, Samira Ashrafi, Madhan Subramanian & Dianne E Godar. Exponentially increasing incidences of cutaneous malignant melanoma in Europe correlate with low personal annual UV doses and suggests 2 major risk Factors. Dermato-endocrinology 2015;7:1

[6] Millen AE, Tucker MA, Hartge P, Halpern A, Elder DE, Guerry D 4th, Holly EA, Sagebiel RW, Potischman N. Diet and melanoma in a case-control study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2004 Jun;13(6):1042-51.

[7] Gould Rothberg BE, Bulloch KJ, Fine JA, Barnhill RL, Berwick M. Red meat and fruit intake is prognostic among patients with localized cutaneous melanomas more than 1 mm thick. Cancer Epidemiol. 2014 Oct;38(5):599-607.

[8] Gallagher RP, Macarthur AC, Lee TK, Weber JP, Leblanc A, Mark Elwood J, Borugian M, Abanto Z, Spinelli JJ. Plasma levels of polychlorinated biphenyls and risk of cutaneous malignant melanoma: a preliminary study. Int J Cancer. 2011  15;128(8):1872-80.

[9] Li WQ, Qureshi AA, Robinson K, Han J. Sildenafil use and increased risk of incident melanoma in US men: a prospective cohort study. JAMA Intern Med. 2014 Jun;174(6):964-70C

[10] Karimi K, Lindgren TH, Koch CA, Brodell RT. Obesity as a risk factor for malignant melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. Rev Endocr Metab Disord. 2016 Sep;17(3):389-403.

[11] Green AC, Siskind V. Risk factors for limb melanomas compared with trunk melanomas in Queensland. Melanoma Res. 2012 ;22(1):86-91.

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Why Sun Exposure is Not Responsible for the Increase in Melanoma

melanoma is not caused by sun exposure

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[1] 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:

  1. 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.[2] 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.

  1. 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.[3]

  1. 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. [4]  This means that public health campaigns should promote mole awareness! Unfortunately, they promote sun avoidance, which increases the risk of melanoma.

  1. 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%.[5] 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.[6] 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.

  1. 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.

[1] 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.

[2] 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.

[3] 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.

[4] Green AC, Siskind V. Risk factors for limb melanomas compared with trunk melanomas in Queensland. Melanoma Res. 2012 Feb;22(1):86-91.

[5] 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.

[6] 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).

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Ovarian Cancer: Does active sun exposure help to prevent it?

ovarian cancerOvarian cancer, like most cancers, is nothing to trifle with. There are 22,280 new cases of ovarian cancer and 14,240 deaths annually in the U.S.[1] Compare that death statistic to melanoma, which has a death rate of only 9,730.[2] (And I might mention that people who are regularly in the sun have a reduced risk of melanoma.) But are there any indications that ovarian cancer is reduced by sun exposure? Yes. The National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Mortality Map also shows that ovarian cancers are much less common in sunnier Southern and Southwestern States than in the North and Northeast,[3] indicating a protective effect of sun exposure.

Research has also demonstrated a relationship between high sun exposure and low risk of ovarian cancer. For example, an Australian investigation showed that women in the highest third of sun exposure, over a lifetime, had a 30% reduced risk of all endothelial ovarian cancers, a 53% reduced risk of borderline tumors and 22% reduced risk of invasive tumors.[4] And, in one piece of research using the Nurses’ Health Study ll, sun exposure was associated with a 33% reduced risk of ovarian cancer.[5] Ovarian cancer mortality rates were also found to be strongly inversely correlated with solar UVB doses in an ecological study by Drs. William Grant and Cedrick Garland.[6]

Sun avoidance is one of the most deadly practices ever perpetrated on the public. Women, carefully embrace the sun and reduce your risk of this potentially deadly disease.

[1] Siegel RL, Miller KD, Jemal A. Cancer statistics, 2016. CA Cancer J Clin. 2016 Jan;66(1):7-30.

[2] American Cancer society statistics, 2017.

[3] Grant, W B. Information available at SUNARC.org, and at the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Mortality Maps and Graphs.

[4] Tran B, Jordan SJ, Lucas R, Webb PM, Neale R; Australian Ovarian Cancer Study Group. Association between ambient ultraviolet radiation and risk of epithelial ovarian cancer. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2012 Nov;5(11):1330-6.

[5] Prescott J, Bertrand K, Poole E, Rosner B, Tworoger S. Surrogates of Long-Term Vitamin D Exposure and Ovarian Cancer Risk in Two Prospective Cohort Studies. Cancers 2013, 5, 1577-1600;

[6] Grant WB, Garland CF. The association of solar ultraviolet B (UVB) with reducing risk of cancer: multifactorial ecologic analysis of geographic variation in age-adjusted cancer mortality rates. Anticancer Res. 2006 Jul-Aug;26(4A):2687-99.

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Vegetables: The magnificent protective effects on melanoma

A new study,[1] from the European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, reports that synthesized chemicals that mimic those found occurring naturally in broccoli, cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables, have the ability to inhibit melanoma. The synthesized chemicals, in fact, were able to inhibit the growth of melanoma cells by about 70% in an experiment on mice.

My last blog showed that tomato powder also had the ability to cut the risk of melanoma by 50% in another mouse experiment, and other studies have also shown that fruits and vegetables have important anti-cancer effects. So when we talk about the reasons that melanoma has increased so rapidly, despite the best efforts by the sunscreen industry and the anti-sun movement, we know many reasons that are backed by science: Lack of regular sun exposure, alcohol consumption, milk consumption and lack of fresh fruits and vegetables in the typical modern nutrition program.


Other investigations have studied the relationship between melanoma survival and fruit consumption.[2] Melanoma patients who had their cancers removed—and who had a predicted death rate of 40% within 10 years—were assessed for consumption of fruit and red meat. Daily fruit consumption correlated to a reduced risk of death of 46%. Those who ate red meat at least once weekly showed an increased risk of death of 84%.

Eat your vegetable and fruits, eschew the meat and most other animal products, obtain regular, non-burning sun exposure, forget the alcohol and milk products and enjoy many outdoor activitiesin natural surroundings. Many of these factors will be discussed in my forthcoming book, Embrace the Sun.

Enjoy the outdoors!

[1] Deepkamal N. Kareliaa, Ugir Hussain,  Parvesh Singh,  A.S. Prakasha Gowdad, Manoj K. Pandey. Srinivasa R, Ramisettia. Shantu Amin, Arun K. Sharma. Design, synthesis, and identification of a novel napthalamide-isoselenocyanate compound NISC-6 as a dual Topoisomerase-IIα and Akt pathway inhibitor, and evaluation of its anti-melanoma activity. European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 135;28:282-295.

[2] Gould Rothberg BE, Bulloch KJ, Fine JA, Barnhill RL, Berwick M5. Red meat and fruit intake is prognostic among patients with localized cutaneous melanomas more than 1 mm thick. Cancer Epidemiol. 2014 Oct;38(5):599-607.

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Canadian Attorney exposes the Truth about Teen Tanning.

Teen tanning by Marc Sorenson, EdD…. 

“There are lies, damn lies and statistics,” or so the saying goes. Karen Selick, of the Canadian Constitution Foundation, some time ago penned a press release entitled: Don’t outlaw teen tanning.[1] I was fortunate that a friend thought I’d be interested. He sent me the release, even though the release was published in 2013.

Selick’s discussion gives an excellent explanation of how the twisting of statistics may lead to a total misinterpretation of the truth. She discusses the fact that anti-tanning advocates consistently state that using indoor tanning equipment before the age of 35 results in a 75% increase in the risk of developing melanoma. That does sound frightening, but when the figures are looked at more closely, she explains that the actual risk of young people contracting melanoma is almost negligible.

Her reasoning is brilliant. She consulted the Statistics Canada Causes of Death database, and demonstrates that in the decade from 2000 to 2009, the last decade from which statistics for teens were available, 5 Canadians 19 years of age or younger died from melanoma. In other words about a half-person per year.

She also points out that among teens during that same decade, there were 195 deaths from falls, 627 deaths from drowning and 6,972 from “transport accidents.”

To draw an analogy, Ms. Selick states the following: “……….. suppose that only one person in Canada were to be murdered in 2014. If two people were murdered in 2015, that would constitute a shocking 100 percent increase in the murder rate — but it would still be only two people, an extraordinarily low murder rate for a country of 34 million people.”

Another observation from the press release was a comparison of the risk of heart disease in Scotland, where sunlight is scarce, with Australia, where sunlight is abundant. The Australians have a one-third reduced risk of death rates from heart attacks. Ms. Selick’s release states that “Those who would ban teen tanning focus so intently on skin cancer that they seem completely oblivious to the health benefits that sun exposure (real or simulated) can confer.”

I have mentioned in this blog that there are 324 lives lost from diseases that are associated with sun deficiency for every life lost to diseases associated with sun exposure, and since sunbeds produce the same type of light as sun exposure, it is not surprising that sunbeds have healthful effects.

We also now have research that demonstrates that over 20 years, women who use sunbeds have a 23% reduced risk of all-cause death.[2]

Dr. Richard Weller, a dermatologist and the author of many pro-sun research studies, often discusses the beneficial effect of nitric oxide, a photoproduct of sun and sunbed exposure. He makes a compelling case that nitric oxide dramatically reduces the risk of hypertension and heart disease. Here is one of his statements:

“The prevalence of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular deaths is around 100 times higher than those from skin cancer. Interventions leading to small changes in the incidence of cardiovascular disease are thus of greater benefit to the health of the public even than large changes in skin-cancer incidence.”[3]

I am not here to suggest that you use a sunbed. That is up to you. I have my own sunbed and enjoy it without the least worry. Just be sure that when you use a sunbed or engage in sunbathing, do it safely without burning.

[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/karen-selick/skin-cancer-tanning-beds_b_2744788.html

[2] Lindqvist PG, Epstein E, Landin-Olsson M, Ingvar C, Nielsen K, Stenbeck M, Olsson H. 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.

[3] Weller R. The health benefits of UV radiation exposure through vitamin D production or non-vitamin D

Pathways. Blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Photochem. Photobiol. Sci. 2016, DOI: 10.1039/C6PP00336B.

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Tanning beds in salons do not increase melanoma risk.

Tanning bed use, By Marc Sorenson, EdD. Sunlight Institute.

Sun exposure and tanning-bed exposure have been much maligned by those who would increase sunscreen sales and other “protection” against melanoma. So a new paper has been written regarding the truth about tanning beds. According to this paper, Risk of melanoma with tanning beds is slightly associated with home use, but there is no significant increase in risk with beds used in tanning salons. This is according to a soon-to-be-published analysis of studies that differentiated between home-use tanning beds and salon use of tanning beds.[1]

The analysis showed that when all tanning devices were considered together, tanning bed use was associated with a 15%-20% increased risk of melanoma. However, when home-use tanning was separated from salon use, salon use showed only a 5% increased risk, which was not significant. In other words, there may have been no risk whatever. In fact, in three of the studies that were part of the analysis, overall use of tanning beds associated to a lessened risk of melanoma.

Therefore, if there is any increased risk of melanoma with tanning-bed use, it is all due to the use of home units. This is what we might expect, since salons take care to assess skin type and monitor the time spent in the unit.

Before we decide to eschew the use of home units, however, we should also take into consideration the very healthful benefits of tanning-bed use in general. Here are a few well-documented facts about the benefits:

  • Tanning bed use is associated with a reduced risk of clots.[2]
  • Tanning-bed use is associated with increased vitamin D levels.[3]
  • Tanning-bed use is associated with stronger bones.[4]
  • Tanning-bed use can cure psoriasis and eczema and tanning beds are often recommended by dermatologists.[5]
  • Tanning-bed use more than three times yearly is associated with a 40-50% reduced risk of endometrial cancer.[6]
  • Tanning-bed use is associated to lower breast-cancer risk.[7]
  • A 20- year study demonstrated that both sun exposure and tanning-bed exposure reduced the risk of death; women who used tanning beds were 23% less likely to die of any cause than women who did not use them.[8]

The key to safe tanning-bed use is the same key as for safe sun exposure: Don’t be taken in by the anti-sun, anti-tanning movement.

[1] Hoel, D. Commercial Tanning Salons and Melanoma Risk. Letter to the editor, Dermato-endocrinology. Not yet published.

[2] Lindqvist PG, Epstein E, Olsson H. Does an active sun exposure habit lower the risk of venous thrombotic events? A D-lightful hypothesis. J Thromb Haemost. 2009 Apr; 7(4):605-10.

[3] Holick, M. Boston University. “Effects Of Vitamin D And Skin’s Physiology Examined.” Science Daily 21 February 2008 <http://www.sciencedaily.com¬ /releases/2008/02/080220161707.htm>.

[4] Tangpricha V, Turner A, Spina C, Decastro S, Chen TC, Holick MF. Tanning is associated with optimal vitamin D status (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration) and higher bone mineral density.  Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80:1645-49.

[5] Radack KP, Farhangian ME, Anderson KL, Feldman SR. A review of the use of tanning beds as a dermatological treatment. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2015 Mar;5(1):37-51.

[6] Epstein E, Lindqvist PG, Geppert B, Olsson H. A population-based cohort study on sun habits and endometrial cancer.  Br J Cancer. 2009 Aug 4;101(3):537-40.

[7] Yang L, Veierød MB, Löf M, Sandin S, Adami HO, Weiderpass E. Prospective study of UV exposure and cancer incidence among Swedish women. J Intern Med. 2014 Jul;276(1):77-86

[8] Lindqvist PG, Epstein E, Landin-Olsson M, Ingvar C, Nielsen K, Stenbeck M, Olsson H. 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.

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Does Sunscreen really do any Good?

By Marc Sorenson, EdD.  Sunlight Institute…

Most people believe that melanoma incidence is increasing rapidly, and that complete avoidance of sun exposure is the answer to preventing the disease. And of course, we must always wear sunscreen, even in the winter. Occasionally, however, there are research studies that belie those beliefs and quite simply show that sunscreens are at best worthless and at worst toxic.

A very-well-done piece of research in Northern Europe compared melanoma incidence rates with sunscreen use during a period of time from 1997-1999 to 2008 and 2012.[1] One of the most interesting findings was that higher income people had significantly higher melanoma incidence, and that increased sunscreen use by those people had not prevented them from being at higher risk of melanoma. In other words, we see this equation: Higher sunscreen use=higher melanoma risk! We know that people who work outdoors regularly have far less risk of melanoma than those who work indoors.[2] This research backs that fact, because it is obvious that higher-income people spend much more time indoors that poorer people who work outside. Those higher-income people also have more money to spend on sunscreens.

Possibly one of the most profound assessments of sunscreen use and melanoma risk was done by Case Adams, a naturopath. In an article entitled Melanoma Rates Double as More Use Sunscreen, Fewer Sunbathe,[3] he analyzes sunscreen sales statistics from Prezi market analysis. He then demonstrates that sunscreen sales between 1982 and 2012 increased by 38 times or 3800%. During the same years, melanoma risk doubled! He also notes that the number of people who sunbathe has profoundly decreased. Anyone who thinks that increasing sunscreen use has led to a reduction in melanoma is wandering around in the darkness of denial! Dr. Adams also makes this interesting statement: “Thus we cannot logically equate the growth of skin cancer with an increase in sun exposure.”

The best protection against melanoma is regular sun exposure. Safely enjoy it!

[1] Williams SN, Dienes KA. Sunscreen Sales, Socio-Economic Factors, and Melanoma Incidence in Northern Europe: A Population-Based Ecological Study. SAGE Open December 14;1-6.

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

[3] http://www.realnatural.org/melanoma-rates-double-as-more-use-sunscreen-fewer-sunbath/

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