Tag Archives: nitric oxide

Men, protect your Prostate!. Research demonstrates a positive influence of Sun Exposure on Prostate Cancer.

By Marc Sorenson, EdD. Sunlight Institute.

Regular sun exposure is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of many cancers. Although the relationship of sun exposure (and vitamin D) to the risk of prostate cancer is controversial, a study from Australia, published in 2011, showed that the less sun exposure, the greater the risk of the cancer.[1] The researchers investigated the relationship between prostate cancer incidence and solar radiation in non-urban Australia and found an inverse association. There are many other studies that indicate a protective effect of sun exposure. One of the earliest was conducted by Dr. Esther John and her colleagues: they compared the lifetime sun exposure of 450 white men with advanced prostate cancer to that of 455 white men who did not have cancer.[2] The men were divided into quintiles according to the amount of exposure they had received.  Subjects in the highest fifth of sun exposure had only 51% of the risk of prostate cancer as did those in the lowest quintile.

Another study on cancer that corroborated these observations was entitled: Is prevention of cancer by sun Exposure more than just the effect of vitamin D? A systematic review of epidemiological studies.[3] In their review, the authors noted that regular sun exposure correlated to a reduced risk of colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). However, vitamin D levels correlated to a reduced risk of colorectal, and to a lesser extent, breast cancer, but were not correlated to a significant risk reduction in prostate cancer and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The authors concluded with this statement: “Particularly in prostate cancer and NHL, other sun-potentiated and vitamin D-independent pathways, such as modulation of the immune system and the circadian rhythm, and the degradation of folic acid, might play a role in reduced cancer risk as well.” These researchers did well to remind us, that as important as vitamin D is to the human body, other effects of sun exposure may be more important in some diseases. The authors could have also mentioned the effect of sun on vasodilation, mediated by the production of nitric oxide (produced by the skin after sun exposure). They could also have discussed the influence of sun on production of serotonin and endorphins, all of which may have contributed to their observations.

Other research used childhood sunburn as a measure of UVR exposure and determined that men who had sunburned as children had only about one-fifth the risk of contracting prostate cancer as those who had not sunburned.[4]  A note of caution! We are not recommending that anyone sunburn in order to prevent prostate or other types of cancer. Sunburn was used in this research to predict higher vitamin D levels, but it is not necessary to achieve those levels, since non-burning sun exposure achieves the same results. This research also demonstrated that men with lowest level of UVR exposure had more than triple the risk of prostate cancer and that onset of the disease was delayed more than four years in those who had the greatest exposure compared to those who had the least exposure.  A follow-up to this study, reported that men in the lowest quartile of sunbathing were linked to a 5.33-fold greater risk of prostate cancer than those in the highest quartile. Still other research has indicated that “higher levels of cumulative exposure, adult sunbathing, childhood sunburn and regular holidays in hot climates were each independently and significantly associated with a reduced risk of this [prostate] cancer.[5]

So men, protect your prostate by regular, non-burning sun exposure. Don’t let the Powers of Darkness frighten you away from the sun.

[1] Loke TW, Seyfi D, Khadra M. Prostate cancer incidence in Australia correlates inversely with solar radiation. BJU Int. 2012 Apr;109 Suppl 3:75.

[2] John EM, Schwartz GG, Koo J, Van Den Berg D, Ingles SA.  Sun exposure, vitamin D receptor gene polymorphisms, and risk of advanced prostate cancer.  Cancer Res 2005;65(12):5470-79.

[3] van der Rhee H, Coebergh JW, de Vries E. Is prevention of cancer by sun exposure more than just the effect of vitamin D? A systematic review of epidemiological studies. Eur J Cancer. 2013 Apr;49(6):1422-36.

[4] Moon SJ, Fryer AA, Strange RC.  Ultraviolet radiation: effects on risks of prostate cancer and other internal cancers.  Mutat Res 2005;571(1-2):207-19.

[5] Bodiwala D, Luscombe CJ, Liu S, Saxby M, French M, Jones PW, Fryer AA, Strange RC..  Prostate cancer risk and exposure to ultraviolet radiation: further support for the protective effect of sun.  Cancer Lett 2003;192:145-49.

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More on Sun Exposure and Depression

Does sun exposure help fight depression? Of course!

By Marc Sorenson, EdD. Sunlight Exposure

Although this blog has discussed sun exposure and its affects on depression, there is some information that I may have neglected to mention. It has been shown that depressed psychiatric patients who resided in sunny rooms stayed in the hospital 2.6 fewer days than those who had “dull” rooms.[1] The sunny rooms had windows, so it is likely that endorphins and serotonin, created by the sun entering the windows, were the natural “uppers” by which the patients felt better. Nitric oxide, produced by UVA light exposure, could also have played a part.

Another of those dull rooms is the one that houses the TV. An interesting study from the University of Pittsburgh found that the more TV teenagers watched, the more likely they were to be depressed as adults.[2] The study author theorized that because there is so much depressing news and programming on TV, the more exposure, the more the internalizing or the depressing programming. For each hour of TV watched, the rate of depression increased significantly.

The researchers may be correct, or it could be that hours of sedentary life in front of the TV, watching commercials for junk food, leads to obesity and poor health as the teenager ages.  We have another theory that may supplant, or at least add to those theories. It is possible that years of unnatural indoor habits create deficiency of the aforementioned vitamin D, nitric oxide, endorphins and serotonin, which may have long-term effects. Combined with the deleterious influences of excessive TV watching, that could be a recipe for depression and health disasters. Sun exposure and vitamin D are absolutely necessary for human health and happiness.  An indoor lifestyle is unnatural and damaging to the human body and psyche.

Safely embrace the sun and obtain its “feel-good” effects.

 

[1] Beauchemin KM, Hays P. Sunny hospital rooms expedite recovery from severe and refractory depressions. J Affect Disord. 1996 Sep 9;40(1-2):49-51.

[2]Primack, B.  Association between media use in adolescence and depression in young adulthood: a longitudinal study.  Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2009 Feb;66(2):181-8

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Sun Exposure during Mothers’ Pregnancy may prevent Asthma in Children.

By Marc Sorenson,, EdD. Sunlight Institute…

The medical properties are terrific! A new study from the University of Kansas demonstrates that children born to women who receive more sun exposure during the second trimester of pregnancy, have a considerably lowered risk of asthma later in life.[1] The researchers did not look at sunny geographical areas vs. areas of little sun to make their assessments, but rather looked at different amounts of sunlight occurring in the same areas in different years. They found that in areas that had experienced high quantities of sun in a given year, the risk of asthmatic children being born in that year was reduced, that is, if their mothers experienced that sun exposure during the second trimester of pregnancy.

The researchers theorized that higher levels of vitamin D during sunny times accounted for the protective effects of sunlight. That may be true, but the protection may have occurred from sun exposure per se, independent of vitamin D. One of the most recent studies on factors that contribute to asthma showed that living in a room without windows was associated with an increased the risk of asthma of 930%,  and living in an area without adequate sun was associated with an increased the risk of 220%.[2] Considering that windows filter out the UVB light that stimulates the production of vitamin D, having windows could not have reduced asthma by vitamin D production—it had to be some other factor—something that entered the room through that window glass–protected the people with windows from the remarkable increase in asthma they would have otherwise had. We know that UVA light, which does pass through windows, stimulates the production of nitric oxide, which is a potent vasodilator. Could it also be a bronchodilator? This explanation, of course, is theory.

Whatever the reason, the study on sunlight and pregnancy is just one of many that have indicated a protective effect of sun exposure against asthma. Safely embrace the sun, and tell pregnant mothers to do the same. It could enhance the quality of life for their children later on, and reduce the cost of health care for all of us.

[1] http://www.biospace.com/News/asthma-free-it-might-be-because-of-moms-sunny/413945

[2] Kamran A, Hanif S, Murtaza G. Risk factors of childhood asthma in children attending Lyari General Hospital. J Pak Med Assoc 2015 Jun;65(6):647-50.

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Nitric Oxide can have positive Effects on Cancer. Another Reason to seek the Sun.

By Marc Sorenson, EdD. Sunlight Institute…

Dr. Richard Weller has promoted sun exposure as a method of increasing nitric oxide (NO) in the vascular system, thereby lowering the risk of heart disease.[1] NO is a potent vasodilator that lowers blood pressure, which according to the World Health Organization, is the leading cause of premature death and disease worldwide.1 But NO may have other beneficial effects.

There is also research showing that NO, which is also an oxidant, has the ability to retard or reverse tumor growth, making it a potential anti-cancer therapy.[2] The problem with this of course, is that if it is used as an anticancer treatment, the oxidation has the potential to harm other systems of the body; After all, that is why we use antioxidants. However, the body beautifully controls the natural use of oxidants to specifically target tumors and leave healthy tissue untouched. As one group of researchers states: “…there is considerable controversy and confusion in understanding its role [NO) in cancer biology. It is said to have both tumoricidal as well as tumor promoting effects which depend on its timing, location, and concentration.[3]

The best way to use NO, in my opinion, is to let nature take its course and use sun exposure to produce NO. Then, the body’s natural physical process will use oxidation to destroy tumors and simultaneously reduce the risk of cancer.

Safely enjoy the sun.

[1] Richard B. Weller.  Sunlight Has Cardiovascular Benefits Independently of Vitamin D. Blood Purif 2016;41:130–134.

[2] Jordi Muntané and Manuel De la Mata. Nitric oxide and cancer. Nitric Oxide and Cancer. Journal List. World J Hepatolv.2(9); 2010 Sep 27.

[3] Sheetal Korde Choudhari, Minal Chaudhary, Sachin Bagde, Amol R Gadbail, and Vaishali Joshi. Nitric oxide and cancer: a review. World J Surg Oncol. 2013; 11: 118.

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Sun Exposure, Chronic Fatigue and Vitamin D

By Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute…

A recent post by an online paper called The Korea Bizwire talks of research by Dr. Emad Al Duzahiri, in which he concludes that those who are suffering from chronic fatigue may really be suffering from sun deficiency.[1] The article mentions that vitamin D, preferably from sun exposure, is essential for reducing the risk of the disease.

There is at least one additional study indicating that optimization of vitamin D improves the severity of symptoms in those who suffer from fatigue.[2]

Remember that sun exposure is the best way to obtain your vitamin D, because it also comes along with serotonin, nitric oxide, endorphins and perhaps dopamine, and it profoundly improves the mood—just what the doctor ordered for chronic fatigue.

So when your get-up-and-go has gotten up and gone, don’t forget the sun!

[1] Emad Al Duzahiri. Quoted in The Korea Bizwire, January 19, 2016. http://koreabizwire.com/lack-of-exposure-to-sunlight-may-lead-to-chronic-fatigue/48480 (accessed January 20, 2016)

[2] Roy S, Sherman A, Monari-Sparks MJ, Schweiker O, Hunter K. Correction of Low Vitamin D Improves Fatigue: Effect of Correction of Low Vitamin D in Fatigue Study (EViDiF Study). N Am J Med Sci. 2014 Aug;6(8):396-402.

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Sun Exposure, Nitric Oxide and Vitamin D for improved Athletic Performance

By Marc Sorenson, EdD  Sunlight Institute…

A most interesting research paper demonstrates that nitrate supplements, combined with exposure to sunlight, increases performance of cyclists.[1] The researchers state that “dietary nitrate supplementation has been shown to increase nitric oxide (NO) metabolites, reduce blood pressure (BP) and enhance exercise performance.” And, as we have discussed in this blog, sun exposure reduces BP by increasing the production of NO. It was theorized that sun exposure might enhance the athletic performance induced by the dietary nitrate supplementation.

The theory proved to be correct; although sun exposure did not improve cycling times by itself, when combined with the nitrate supplementation, cycling times improved significantly.

It may surprise some people to realize that ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from sun beds or sun lamps has been used since before 1950 to enhance athletic performance.[2] As early as 1938, Russian researchers reported that a course of UVR significantly improved speed in the 100-meter dash among four students when compared with controls that did not have the radiation, although both groups were undergoing identical daily training.[3] The non-irradiated group improved by 1.7% but the irradiated group improved by 7.4%. Another study conducted over ten weeks showed that cardiovascular endurance improved remarkably among athletes in training who were irradiated vs. those who were not.[4] The irradiated athletes improved by 19.2% compared to 1.5% among the non-irradiated group.

There are numerous studies from Germany showing the efficacy of UVR on athletic performance, most of them from the early days before the idea of sun-lamp produced UVR fell into disrepute because of the attack on tanning beds. What a shame. This method of athletic assistance could produce an impressive improvement in sports performance for so many people, athletic or not. Strength improves, stamina improves, quickness improves and speed improves with UVR radiation, which of course is also part of sunlight. The mechanism for this improvement is likely a combination of vitamin D and nitric oxide.

Safely enjoy the sun!

 

 

 

[1] Muggeridge DJ, Sculthorpe N, Grace FM, Willis G, Thornhill L, Weller RB, James PE, Easton C. Acute whole body UVA irradiation combined with nitrate ingestion enhances time trial performance in trained cyclists. Nitric Oxide. 2015 Aug 1;48:3-9.

[2] Cannell JJ, Hollis BW, Sorenson MB, Taft TN, Anderson JJ. Athletic performance and vitamin D. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 May;41(5):1102-10.

[3] Gorkin Z. Gorkin MJ, Teslenko NE. The effect of ultraviolet radiation upon training for the 100-meter sprint.

[4] Allen R, Cureton T. Effects of ultraviolet radiation on physical fitness. Arch Phys Med 1945;10:641-4.

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Do you have High Blood Pressure? Could Sunlight save your Life?

By Marc Sorenson, EdD  Sunlight Institute

High blood pressure (HBP, hypertension) is a plague in our society, with one in three adults in the U.S. having the condition.[1] Although 61,762 people per year die from HBP per se, its influence on other diseases may be more dangerous that HBP itself; it is also implicated in increased risk of death from heart disease, heart failure, other arterial diseases, kidney disease, irregular heart rhythms, osteoporosis, cognitive dysfunction, painful intercourse and stroke.[2] Although textbook theory holds that HBP is regulated by the brain, blood vessels, or kidney, recent evidence suggests that HBP could be regulated in the skin, and that sunlight exposure plays a role in in controlling the condition.[3] The authors of the latest research on this subject (footnote 3) demonstrate that sunlight produces a dilation of the arteries (known as vasodilation) by stimulating the production of Nitric oxide (NO) in the skin. NO is a potent vasodilator, stimulated by the ultraviolet A (UVA) portion of sunlight, and has been known for several years to lower blood pressure. Dr. Oplander and his colleagues wrote the first paper on the UVA and blood pressure in 2009, [4] showing a dramatic reduction of blood pressure with UVA.

A study from China demonstrates that exposure to sunlight correlates to a lowered risk of HBP.[5] In a randomly selected population of Chinese residents from Macau (where the rate of hypertension is very high), the following risk factors for hypertension were assessed: lack of sunlight exposure, low intake of fish, smoking, obesity and lack of exercise. An average of more than one-half hour of sunlight exposure per day, compared to none, predicted a 40% reduced risk for hypertension. Other factors such as smoking and poor nutrition, are of course very dangerous in producing HBP.

Dr. Grant has estimated that by doubling the dose of sun exposure, 400,000 lives could be saved yearly in the USA, with most of the reduction in mortality due to lives saved by lesser incidence of cancer and cardiovascular disease.[6] HBP, of course is a major player in cardiovascular disease, and we know that regular sunlight exposure is associated with profoundly lower risk of about 18 major cancers. Do not neglect to get your regular, non-burning sun exposure. It could save your life!

 

[1] American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Statistical Fact Sheet/2013 update.

[2] Ann Pietrangelo. Healthline 2014 http://www.healthline.com/health/high-blood-pressure-hypertension/effect-on-body (accessed January 4, 2016).

[3] Johnson RS, Titze J, Weller R. Cutaneous control of blood pressure. Curr Opin Nephrol Hypertens. 2016;Jan25(1):11-5.

[4] Opländer C, Volkmar CM, Paunel-Görgülü A, van Faassen EE, Heiss C, Kelm M, Halmer D, Mürtz M, Pallua N, Suschek CV.. Whole body UVA irradiation lowers systemic blood pressure by release of nitric oxide from intracutaneous photolabile nitric oxide derivates. Circ Res. 2009;105:1031–40.

[5] Ke L, Ho J, Feng J, Mpofu E, Dibley MJ, Feng X, Van F, Leong S, Lau W, Lueng P, Kowk C, Li Y, Mason RS, Brock KE. Modifiable risk factors including sunlight exposure and fish consumption are associated with risk of hypertension in a large representative population from Macau. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 2013 Nov 1 [Epub ahead of print].

[6] Grant, W. In defense of the sun: An estimate of changes in mortality rates in the United States if mean serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were raised to 45 ng/mL by solar ultraviolet-B irradiance.  Dermato-endocrinology 2009;4:207-214.

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Sunlight and Prostate Cancer. Part 2

By Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute…

A short time ago, we posted a blog showing that little boys who had high sunlight exposure were about 82% less likely to develop prostate cancer than those who were not exposed. Now let’s take a look at additional interesting science on sunlight and prostate cancer.

Norwegian research has also demonstrated an inverse correlation between prostate cancer and sunlight when death rates from prostate, breast and colon cancer were compared to the season in which the cancer was diagnosed.[i] [ii] Over 36 months, study subjects diagnosed during summer and fall (times of the greatest sunlight exposure and vitamin D production) had much lower death rates than those diagnosed in winter and spring.

 

Another indication of the influence of sunlight on prostate cancer is research on prostate specific antigen (PSA).  The higher the PSA level in the blood, the greater is the chance of cancer.  When the prostate gland is undergoing changes that may lead to cancer, PSA levels generally rise.  Men with the lowest levels of lifetime sunlight exposure have higher PSA levels than those with the highest levels of sunlight exposure.[iii]

 

Nevertheless, a recent meta-analysis of studies of serum vitamin D levels and prostate cancer showed no relationship between prostate cancer and vitamin D.[iv]  The reason for the discrepancy between a lowered risk of prostate cancer correlating to higher sunlight exposure but not correlating to a higher serum level of vitamin D is unknown.  It is probable that the beneficial influence of sunlight on prostate cancer goes beyond its stimulation of vitamin D production in skin.  And according to Dr. Cannell, the reason for the lack of a relationship between blood levels of vitamin D and prostate cancer may be because the subjects in the studies received much of their vitamin D from cod-liver oil, high in vitamin A, which has been shown to thwart the beneficial effect of vitamin D on cancer,[v] possibly due to the fact that retinol (vitamin A) competes with activated vitamin D for receptor sites.[vi]  Suffice it to say that sun exposure is the safest and surest way to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Men, protect your health and your love-life by getting your share of the wonderful sun.

[i] Robsahm TE, Tretli S, Dahlback A, Moan J. Vitamin D3 from sunlight may improve the prognosis of breast-, colon- and prostate cancer (Norway).  Cancer Causes Control 2004;15:149-58.

[ii] Lagunova Z, Porojnicu AC, Dahlback A, Berg JP, Beer TM, Moan J.  Prostate cancer survival is dependent on season of diagnosis.  Prostate 2007;67(12):1362-70.

[iii] Weinrich  S, Elliaon, E, Weinrich, M, Ross, K, Reis-Starr, C.  Low sun exposure and elevated serum prostate specific antigen in African American and Caucasian men.  AM J Health Stud 2001;17:148-55

[iv] Lu Yin, Elke Raum, Ulrike Haug, Volker Arndt, Hermann Brenner.  Meta-analysis of longitudinal studies: Serum vitamin D and prostate cancer risk.  Cancer Epidemiology 2009;33: 435–45.

[v] Cannell, J.  Vitamin D newsletter:  February 28, 2010.

[vi] Bao Y, Ng K, Wolpin BM, Michaud DS, Giovannucci E, Fuchs CS.  Predicted vitamin D status and pancreatic cancer risk in two prospective cohort studies.  Br J Cancer 2010;102(9):1422-7.

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Erectile Dysfunction (ED), Vitamin D, Sunlight and Nitric Oxide

By Marc Sorenson, EdD

A new article on November 30, 2015, from the Daily Mail, discusses breaking research on the association between ED and vitamin D.[1] The research from Johns Hopkins University, by Dr. Erin Michos and her colleagues, was conducted on 3,400 men over age 20, 30% of whom were vitamin D deficient, and 16% of whom reported symptoms of ED. Men with Vitamin D deficiency were 32% more likely to suffer ED than those whose levels were sufficient.

Although I, along with Dr. Grant, were the first to hypothesize that vitamin D deficiency could lead to ED,[2] I have moderated my opinion somewhat. It is entirely possible that higher vitamin D levels are really a surrogate measurement for sunlight exposure. Although vitamin D probably has a positive affect on ED, the UVA portion of sunlight has a nearly immediate effect in dilating the blood vessels[3] through the production of nitric oxide (NO), which is absolutely necessary for producing an erection.[4] Viagra and other ED drugs work by inhibiting the breakdown of NO, which keeps NO in circulation for a longer period.[5] But, they don’t always work and can have many deleterious side effects.[6]

My hope is that research will be done to determine the effectiveness of sunlight exposure in alleviating the condition. Of course, the underlying cause of ED is consuming foods that occlude the arteries. Sunlight and/or vitamin D serve as palliatives to that occlusion, as do the ED drugs. A nutrition program filled with colorful fruits and vegetables,[i] along with ample sunlight exposure, would, in my opinion, produce the very best results in mitigating or perhaps reversing the disease.

[i] Esposito K, Giugliano F, Maiorino MI, Giugliano D. Dietary factors, Mediterranean diet and erectile dysfunction. J Sex Med. 2010 Jul;7(7):2338-45.

To read the Daily Mail article, please click this link. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3321000/Could-daily-dose-vitamin-D-cure-erectile-dysfunction-Deficiency-means-man-32-likely-impotent.html

[1] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3321000/Could-daily-dose-vitamin-D-cure-erectile-dysfunction-Deficiency-means-man-32-likely-impotent.html

[2] Sorenson M, Grant WB. Does vitamin D deficiency contribute to erectile dysfunction? Dermato-Endocrinology 4;2:128–136.

[3] Opländer C, Volkmar CM, Paunel-Görgülü A, van Faassen EE, et al. Whole body UVA irradiation lowers systemic blood pressure by release of nitric oxide from intracutaneous photolabile nitric oxide derivates. Circ Res. 2009;105:1031–40.

[4] Burnett AL. The role of nitric oxide in erectile dysfunction: implications for medical therapy. J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2006 Dec;8(12 Suppl 4):53-62

[5] Nitric Oxide and Viagra (no authors listed) Concepts in Biochemistry (accessed on November 30, 2015) at   http://www.wiley.com/college/boyer/0470003790/cutting_edge/viagra/viagra.htm.

[6] http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/erectile-dysfunction-medications-common-side-effects?stickyLb=true

 

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Is Sunlight Exposure Addictive? Thankfully, yes, because regular Sunlight Exposure PREVENTS Melanoma.

By Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute…..

 

Before proceeding with the discussion on sunlight addiction, it is important to review the truth about sunlight and melanoma, to understand why sunlight addiction may be a good thing.

A recent report on ultraviolet light and addiction[1] is obviously meant to be a hit piece regarding sunlight exposure and tanning, as seen in the opening statement: “Despite widespread awareness that UV exposure is a major risk factor for all common cutaneous malignancies, skin cancer incidence relentlessly increases by ~3% per year.”

The “all common cutaneous malignancies” portion of this statement, of course, is patently false. Whereas the relatively benign common skin cancers are increased by exposure to sunlight, melanoma is increased by avoiding the sun. If the dramatic increase in melanoma over the past century were due to sunlight exposure, then sunlight exposure must also have increased dramatically during that time. To determine whether that has happened, we analyzed data from the Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, (BLS) to determine if there was an increase or decrease in human sunlight exposure during the years from 1910 to 2,000.[2] The statistics showed that indoor occupations such as  “professional, managerial, clerical, sales, and service workers grew from one-quarter to three-quarters of total employment between 1910 and 2000.” BLS also stated that during the same period, the outdoor occupation of farming declined from 33% to 1.2% of total employment, a 96% reduction. The data also showed an approximately 66% decline in the occupation of farmers and 50% of the decline in the occupation of farm laborers.

The Environmental Protection Agency also determined that as of 1986, about 5 percent of adult men worked mostly outside, and that about 10 percent worked outside part of the time. The proportion of women who worked outside was thought to be even lower.[3] These data demonstrate a dramatic shift from outdoor, sun-exposed activity to indoor, non-sun-exposed activity during the mid-to-late 20th Century.

Despite these facts, the Melanoma International Foundation (MIF) has stated that melanoma has increased by 30 times (3,000%) just since 1935! Here is the statement by the MIF: “Melanoma is epidemic: rising faster than any other cancer and projected to affect one person in 50 by 2010, currently it affects 1 in 75. In 1935, only one in 1,500 was struck by the disease.”[4]  Indeed, the American Cancer Society in 2014 reported that one in 50 now contracts the disease.[5] That exponential increase in melanoma has been accompanied by a profound decrease in sunlight exposure, yet sunlight or other UV exposure is blamed for the melanoma increase—a totally counterintuitive argument! I submit that not only is sunlight not responsible for the exponential increase in melanoma, but that the decrease in sun exposure may be a major cause of that increase.

Here are other facts that belie the idea that melanoma is caused by sunlight exposure:

  1. Outdoor workers, while receiving 3-9 times the UVR exposure as indoor workers,[6] [7] have had no increase in melanoma since before 1940, whereas melanoma incidence in indoor workers has increased steadily and exponentially.
  2. Most melanomas occur on areas of the body that are seldom or never exposed to the sunlight.[8] [9] [10]
  3. The use of sunscreen, which has increased steadily, has not resulted in a decrease in melanoma.[11] In fact, melanoma has increased as sunscreen use has become more widespread. Since sunscreens block sunlight, it is evident that at best they are a waste of money and at worst may be contributing to the increase in melanoma.

Now, let’s discuss the research on the aforementioned addiction to sunlight. The researchers conducted various experiments on mice that showed behavior choices, such as desiring lighter rather than darker environments, were increased by regular exposure. These behavior choices were mediated by β-endorphins, peptide hormones which are similar to opiates. So is this all bad? This marvelous product, β-endorphin, is one of the feel-good hormones that decreases pain and increases a sense of well-being. The case the researchers make regarding addiction to sunlight is compelling, and why not? Sunlight exposure causes vitamin D production in the skin, which is essential to human health; it also stimulates the production of nitric oxide, which relaxes our vessels and lowers our blood pressure; it stimulates the production of serotonin in the brain, which is another feel-good hormone necessary for a happy mood and wellbeing. And considering the myriad additional effects of sunlight on health, including the prevention of cancer, the prevention and reversal of bone diseases and the reduction of heart disease, could it not be part of God’s (or Nature’s) master plan to develop a positive addiction to sunlight so than our health could be enhanced? I am a sunlight addict, and expose myself to it regularly for two reasons: (1) It marvelously improves my mood and (2) it protects me from disease and weakness. I am a light-skinned, blue-eyed Caucasian who has spent much of my seven decades on this earth seeking the sun. Yet, there have been no melanomas or even common skin cancer.

Nevertheless, the researchers summarize their paper on sun addiction with the following: “While primordial UV addiction, mediated by the hedonic [pertaining to pleasure] action of β-endorphin and anhedonic effects of withdrawal, may theoretically have enhanced evolutionary vitamin D biosynthesis, it now may contribute to the relentless rise in skin cancer incidence in man.”

That summary statement is claptrap, as can be seen by the research on melanoma and sunlight presented above. If sunlight is addictive and helps me to avoid melanoma, heart disease, bone loss and other maladies, I can only say, “hooray for the addiction!”

[1] Gillian L. Fell, Kathleen C. Robinson, Jianren Mao, Clifford J. Woolf, and David E.

Fisher. Skin β-endorphin mediates addiction to ultraviolet light. Cell. 2014 June 19; 157(7): 1527–1534.

[2] 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

[3] U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, Catching Our Breath: Next Steps for Reducing Urban Ozone, OTA-O-412 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, July 1989).

[4] 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.

[5] American Cancer Society. Melanoma Skin Cancer Overview 9/16/2014. Accessed on 9/23/2014 at http://www.cancer.org/cancer/skincancer-melanoma/overviewguide/melanoma-skin-cancer-overview-key-statistics

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

[7] Thieden E, Philipsen PA, Sandby-Møller J, Wulf HC. UV radiation exposure related to age, sex, occupation, and sun behavior based on time-stamped personal dosimeter readings. Arch Dermatol 2004;140:197–203.

[8] 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.

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

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

[11] Phillippe Autier. Do high factor Sunscreens offer protection from melanoma? West J Med. 2000 Jul; 173(1): 58.

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