By Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute
Let’s revisit the need for appropriate nutrition in preventing melanoma death.
It has been well-established that melanoma is not caused by sunlight exposure, despite the sunphobes’ protestations to the contrary. There are numerous research papers that indicate melanoma is considerably less frequent among those who are regularly exposed to sunlight than among those who avoid it.     (The references cited here are only a few of the many papers that corroborate the fact that melanoma is less common among those who embrace the sun.)
More than two years ago I read of ongoing research by Dr. Pelle Lindqvist—reasearch indicating that greater exposure to sunlight resulted in longer life. I made several attempts to contact Dr. Lindqvist, but was unsuccessful. However, one of his colleagues answered my query and informed me that the research would not be completed later on and then be published. The results are now available, and they are impressive.
During a 20-year period, the subjects in the study who avoided sun exposure were twice as likely to die of any cause compared to those who had the highest sun exposure, and the researchers made this statement: “In both models the summary sun exposure variables showed a ‘dose-dependent’ inverse relation between sun exposure and all-cause death.”
The results of the investigation were recently published in the International Journal of Cancer, and demonstrated that regular sunlight exposure was not associated with either overall melanoma risk or risk at different body sites. To the contrary, the highest sunlight exposure predicted a 44% decreased risk of melanoma on the head and neck when compared to the lowest exposure.
In addition, when sunlight exposure to the upper limbs was assessed, the highest exposure was associated with a decreased risk of melanoma of 34%. The authors stated, “Our results suggest that occupational sun exposure does not increase risk of melanoma, even of melanomas situated on the head and neck.”
Stated another way, the authors might have suggested that sunlight exposure protects against the risk of contracting melanoma. In reading this research, I was reminded of a statement by Dr. Frank Garland during his presentation at a vitamin D conference I attended several years ago. He said, “melanoma is a disease of sedentary, indoor office workers.” He was absolutely correct.
Those who have bought the propaganda of the American Academy of Dermatology may consider this information quite surprising, but in reality it is just one more in a long line of scientific investigations pointing out several reasons that melanoma is not caused by sunlight exposure: (1) Most melanomas occur on areas of the body that are seldom exposed to sunlight. (2) As sunscreen use has increased, melanoma has also increased. (3) Outdoor workers have far less risk of melanoma than indoor workers. (4) As the populace has left outdoor work and moved indoors, profoundly reducing sunlight exposure, melanoma has increased exponentially.
For those interested in reading further regarding these statements and also searching the references, they are contained on previous posts on this site. In the meantime, let’s take advantage of some non-burning sun exposure to protect ourselves against melanoma.
I’m grateful to the scientists from Australia who brought forth this information. Truth will ultimately prevail.
 Vuong K, McGeechan K, Armstrong BK; AMFS Investigators; GEM Investigators, Cust AE. Occupational sun exposure and risk of melanoma according to anatomical site. Int J Cancer 2013 Nov 13 [Epub ahead of print].
When considering those studies, it becomes obvious that increasing consumption of alcohol leads to increasing risk of melanoma. Millen’s research, by the way, defined many other nutritional factors that lead to either an increased risk of melanoma or a protection against the disease. I discussed those factors in an earlier post on nutrition and melanoma. http://sunlightinstitute.org/skin-cancer-and-nutrition%E2%80%94stop-blaming-sun
The latest research corroborates the findings of the two aforementioned studies. Jessica Kubo and colleagues investigated the effect of alcohol consumption on the risk of melanoma in a 10.2-year study. Several interesting observations emerged: (1) those who consumed 7+ drinks per week had a 64% increased risk of melanoma; (2) higher lifetime alcohol consumption was positively correlated to risk of the disease; (3) higher current alcohol consumption similarly correlated to a higher risk: (4) current alcohol intake also predicted higher risk; (5) a preference for white wine or liquor also predicted increased risk.
So you see, the idea that melanoma is caused by sunlight exposure is again refuted. We know that as sunlight exposure has decreased profoundly in the last 100 years, the risk of melanoma has increased exponentially. When sunlight exposure has decreased and melanoma has concomitantly increased, what more needs to be said? I have previously posted two blogs on this subject and believe that they entirely refute the claim that melanoma is caused by sunlight.http://sunlightinstitute.org/exposing-sunlightmelanoma-fraud-part-1 http://sunlightinstitute.org/exposing-sunlightmelanoma-fraud-part-2
It is time that we started using our heads and look for the real reason for melanoma. Alcohol is just one reason among many, and it is time to look to other deleterious lifestyles as being the real causes of this deadly disease.
 Bain C, Green A, Siskind V, Alexander J, Harvey P. Diet and melanoma. An exploratory case-control study. Ann Epidemiol 1993;3:235-8.
 Millen AE, Tucker MA, Hartge P, Halpern A, Elder DE, et al. Diet and Melanoma in a Case-Control Study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2004;13(6):1042-51.
 Kubo JT, Henderson MT, Desai M, Wactawski-Wende J, Stefanick ML, Tang JY. Alcohol consumption and risk of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer in the Women’s Health Initiative. Cancer Causes Control 2013 Oct 31. [Epub ahead of print]
In her latest publication, she and her colleagues show that holidays in sunny areas were significantly correlated to thinner melanomas, meaning that the cancers were less likely to progress and spread. There was a dose-response protection against thicker melanomas; in other words, the greater the number of weeks of sunny holidays, the greater less the risk of thicker melanomas. This correlation existed only for women. The good news, however, is that for both sexes,recurrence of excised melanomas was reduced an average of 70% in those who spent the greatest number of days in the sunlight.
I and many others have said for years that not only does sunlight not cause melanoma, regular non-burning sunlight is protective against contracting melanoma. This new research corroborates that fact.
A similar study on melanoma thickness and the risk of relapse was done in 2009 by Julia Newton-Bishop and colleagues. In that research, it was shown that subjects with higher vitamin D levels had thinner melanomas and a greater survival prognosis. Nevertheless, the results were not nearly as impressive as the study by Gandini, et al. Sunlight exposure per se appears to be superior to vitamin D levels per se in protecting against melanoma.
Sunlight exposure is the best and most natural way to produce large quantities of vitamin D in the human body, and we are learning that sunlight produces many health benefits beyond vitamin D production. This present research is another step forward in bringing sunlight back to its rightful position as mankind’s best friend.
 Gandini, S, et al. Meta-analysis of risk factors for cutaneous melanoma: I-3. European Journal of Cancer 2005;41:28–44.
 Gandini S, De Vries E, Tosti G, Botteri E, Spadola G, et al. Sunny Holidays before and after Melanoma Diagnosis Are Respectively Associated with Lower Breslow Thickness and Lower Relapse Rates in Italy. PLoS One 2013;8:e78820.
 Newton-Bishop JA, Beswick S, Randerson-Moor J, Chang YM, Affleck P, et al. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 levels are associated with breslow thickness at presentation and survival from melanoma. J Clin Oncol 2009;27:5439-44.
In so many countries, sunlight is looked on with fear, and the press is constantly promoting that fear by warning that sun exposure in causing melanoma—an idea that is patently false.
Fortunately, in India not everyone is buying the sunscare propaganda. It is not uncommon to see articles in the Indian press expressing the concern that Indians, many of who have adopted the indoor lifestyles of western countries, are becoming severely deficient in vitamin D due to lack of sunlight exposure. One of those articles was recently published in the online version of India Today. The author, Nalini Ravichandran, correctly points out: “Scientific studies have proven that Vitamin D is like the ignition key to your car; the car won’t run unless you turn the key and ignite the engine. So get started in the right direction, before it gets too late.” In other words, seek the sunlight!
The author also laments the fact that 80% of Indians are now vitamin-D deficient. The only thing lacking in this excellent piece is a discussion of all the benefits of sunlight beyond vitamin D.
I applaud the efforts of the Indian press to bring the truth about sunlight to their populace. I have seen several articles in the past year all extolling the benefits of sunlight. Now, if only we could get the western press to catch up!
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.
[i] Green, A, et al. Risk factors for limb melanomas compared with trunk melanomas in Queensland. Melanoma Res 2012;22;86-91.
[ii] 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 Hypotheses 2009;72:434-43. 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. 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 2003;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
[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.
In this excellent article, Dr. Charles Reinert tells about how his mother contracted melanoma on her chest (an area where she seldom was exposed to sunlight) and died of the disease shortly thereafter. He makes the point, as I have done repeatedly, that regular sunlight exposure is associated with a decreased risk of melanoma. He also lists several additional diseases that increase with decreased sunlight exposure. An excellent read.
Bridget Krutzik, a natural health consultant, has written a nice article on sunlight and melanoma, providing evidence that increased sulight correlates to a lesser risk of melanoma. Bridget has other posts that discuss the vegan diet and other health enhancing habits that I heartily endorse. I hope to read her posts often.
Dr. Cathi Stack has written an excellent article on the health benefits of sunligtht, and the fact that regular sun exposure is associated with a reduced risk of 22 canacers, including melanoma. She also takes on sunscreen and explains that as its use has increased, melanoma risk has also increased. We need more like Dr. Stack!