Tag Archives: obesity

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.

References:

[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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The magnificent sun, UV, and what they do for our bodies and minds. Embrace the Sun!

Health benefits of UV by Marc Sorenson, Ed.D.

How important is UV? Sunlight. UV heart and mindA transcendentally important scientific paper, by Dr. AT Slominski and colleagues, has added significant information about UV (sunlight) for skin. In addition, it explains the intricate connection between sunlight and the immune, endocrine and central nervous systems.[1] The name of the research paper, published in the journal Endocrinology, is How ultraviolet light touches the brain and endocrine system through skin, and why. The authors begin the abstract by stating that “the skin is a self-regulating protective barrier organ that is empowered with sensory and computing capabilities to counteract the environmental stressors to maintain/restore disrupted cutaneous homeostasis.” In other words, the skin has the ability to take on what life deals it and maintain its equilibrium and balance. In addition, the skin communicates bidirectionally with the central nervous, endocrine and immune systems. Thus, it helps to maintain balance for all body systems.

How does UV work?

First of all, ultraviolet energy (UV and UVB light) triggers all of these marvelous processes. UV, of course is available from sunlight, sunbeds or sunlamps. Its electromagnetic energy, through the skin, converts to chemical, hormonal and neural signals. These signals promote positive effects on the immune system, the endocrine system and the brain. Furthermore, endorphins (opioid-like substances) are increased and immune-system proteins are mobilized; consequently, health improves with UV. And, sun exposure regulates the endocrine system, by way of exposure to the skin, to produce or diminish hormones as needed. Especially relevant is that these effects take place independently of vitamin D synthesis.

Health increases with UV due to the magnificent sun, and our magnificent skin. As a result of the above information, it seems like it would be a good idea to soak up some non-burning sun each day when available. And, when it is not, we should find another UV source. In our soon-to-be-published book, Embrace the Sun, we discuss many facts about the healthful effects sun exposure:

A few healthful effects of sun (UV) exposure

  • prevents and reverses obesity
  • Improves longevity by reducing the risk of death by 50% over 20 years
  • reduces the risk of hip fracture by 90% when compared to sun avoidance
  • prevents the risk of breast cancer by 90% when compared to sun avoidance
  • reduces by 50% the risk of melanoma in outdoor workers compared with indoor workers
  • increases heart and vascular strength
  • dramatically improves mood
  • reduces the risk of multiple sclerosis
  • reduces risk of most internal cancers
  • cures psoriasis and eczema
  • reduces risk of nervous system disorders
  • prevents memory loss
  • prevents myopia

The above list is not surprising in view of this new research, nor is the list complete. UV has many more healthful effects, which I’m sure the authors of this research acknowledge. Hence, the scientists sum up their research in this manner: “Thus, UV touches the brain and central neuroendocrine system to reset body homeostasis. This invites multiple therapeutic applications of UV radiation, for example in the management of autoimmune and mood disorders, addiction, and obesity.”

In conclusion, this seem like more compelling evidence to safely embrace the sun, no?

[1] Slominski AT, Zmijewski MA, Plonka PM, Szaflarski JP, Paus R. How ultraviolet light touches the brain and endocrine system through skin, and why. Endocrinology. 2018 Mar 12. [Epub ahead of print]

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Pregnant Moms, Sun Deprivation and obese Children

Obesity: Do vitamin D and sunlight have a part? A new study shows thatSun exposure for pregnant mom important for children to prevent obesity when vitamin D-deficient pregnant women bear children, the children may become obese.[1] Furthermore, the children had larger waistlines at age 6, compared with children born to women who had sufficient vitamin D levels. The body-fat percentage of those born to vitamin D- deficient women was also significantly higher. Body fat-percentage is a measure of obesity (or lack thereof).

The authors stated that 95% of vitamin D production in the body comes from sun exposure to skin. That is correct. Consequently, the expectant mothers spend too much time indoors. Or, they are frightened into sunscreen use, which can prevent production of 99% of vitamin D by sun exposure. Therefore, this type of obesity is a sun-deprivation disease. The research suggested that vitamin D supplements might be the answer. However, the answer is not supplements when sunlight is available. We should promote safe, non-burning sun exposure to prevent obesity.

Much has been researched lately regarding the importance of sunlight in preventing obesity. In my last blog, I mentioned several of these studies:  http://sunlightinstitute.org/staying-slim-sunlight/

Here is a list of the methods by which sun exposure helps to prevent or reverse obesity:

  • First of all, because blue-spectrum light causes cells to dump part of their fat load, it helps weight-control
  • Secondly, early-morning light, because it resets circadian rhythms, reduces the risk of weight-gain.
  • Thirdly, exposure to ultraviolet radiation (one of the spectrums in sun exposure) has been shown to impressively reduce weight gain in mice on a high-fat diet. Especially relevant is the fact that vitamin D levels made no difference in the weight of the animals.

In conclusion, non-burning sun exposure is vitally important to human health. If you would like to have a fat content that is less than others, be sure to obtain your share or sunshine and make weight-control for you and your children much easier!

[1] V. Daraki, T. Roumeliotaki, G. Chalkiadaki, M. Katrinaki, M. Karachaliou , V. Leventakou, M. Vafeiadi, K. Sarri, M. Vassilaki, S. Papavasiliou, M. Kogevinas and L. Chatzi. Low maternal vitamin D status in pregnancy increases the risk of childhood obesity. Pediatric Obesity Pediatr Obes. 2018 Jan 28. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.12267. [Epub ahead of print]

Obesity: Do vitamin D and sunlight have a part? A new study shows that when vitamin D deficient pregnant women bear children, the children may become obese.[1] Furthermore, the children had larger waistlines at age 6, compared with children born to women who had sufficient vitamin D levels. The body-fat percentage of those born to vitamin D- deficient women was also significantly higher. Body fat-percentage is a measure of obesity (or lack thereof).

How is vitamin D produced?

The authors stated that 95% of vitamin D production in the body comes from sun exposure to skin. That is correct. Consequently, the expectant mothers spend too much time indoors. Or, they are frightened into sunscreen use, which can prevent production of 99% of vitamin D by sun exposure. Therefore, this type of obesity is a sun-deprivation disease. The research suggested that vitamin D supplements might be the answer. However, the answer is not supplements when sunlight is available. We should promote safe, non-burning sun exposure to prevent obesity.

Are there other studies regarding sunlight and obesity?

Much has been researched lately regarding the importance of sunlight in preventing obesity. In my last blog, I mentioned several of these studies:  http://sunlightinstitute.org/staying-slim-sunlight/

Here is a list of the methods by which sun exposure helps to prevent or reverse obesity:

  • First of all, because blue-spectrum light causes cells to dump part of their fat load, it helps weight-control
  • Secondly, early-morning light, because it resets circadian rhythms, reduces the risk of weight-gain.
  • Thirdly, exposure to ultraviolet radiation (one of the spectrums in sun exposure) has been shown to impressively reduce weight gain in mice on a high-fat diet. Especially relevant is the fact that vitamin D levels made no difference in the weight of the animals.

In conclusion, non-burning sun exposure is vitally important to human health. If you would like to have a fat content that is less than others, be sure to obtain your share or sunshine and make weight-control for you and your children much easier!

[1] V. Daraki, T. Roumeliotaki, G. Chalkiadaki, M. Katrinaki, M. Karachaliou , V. Leventakou, M. Vafeiadi, K. Sarri, M. Vassilaki, S. Papavasiliou, M. Kogevinas and L. Chatzi. Low maternal vitamin D status in pregnancy increases the risk of childhood obesity. Pediatric Obesity Pediatr Obes. 2018 Jan 28. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.12267. [Epub ahead of print]

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Staying slim with Sunlight

Stay slim with sun exposure? Sun exposure. Use to be slim!New, never considered research adds a reason to stay active in the sun:[1] The blue-light spectrum of sunlight, a spectrum that can penetrate the skin, can cause subdermal fat tissue to decrease in size. In other words, it can cause fat loss. Thus, the action of sunlight may help one to stay slim or become slim. The researchers showed that daily exposure of differentiated adipocytes [fat cells] to blue light resulted in decreased lipid droplet size and increased basal lipolytic [fat breakdown] rate.

The researchers had been doing research on light and diabetes, and they serendipitously found that the light could be an asset in maintaining (or producing) a slim body. But there are many other studies that show sun exposure is capable of assisting the body in being slim. For example: here is another benefit of sun exposure—morning sun specifically: A recent study from Northwestern Medicine demonstrates that timing and intensity of light correlate with body mass index (BMI).[2] BMI is a numerical computation comparing height and weight, and is a commonly used method to assess obesity or the lack thereof. A high BMI usually means a person is obese or at least approaching obesity, while optimal BMI is 18-25. Below 18 is considered underweight, above 25 is overweight, 30 is obese and 40 and above is morbidly obese. However, BMI does not work for heavily-muscled people, who may have minimal fat, but whose BMI puts them in an obese category—in reality, they are very slim.

This study showed that exposure to bright morning light was directly related to BMI. After adjusting for confounders such as diet, exercise and timing of sleep, it was determined that very early exposure to morning light correlated remarkably to lower BMI—they were slim, or at least slimmer. Even when light intensity was equal at different times of the day, those who received the earliest bright light had lower BMI. Most noteworthy was the fact that for each hour later in the day when light exposure occurred, BMI increased by 1.3 units. This fact is especially relevant, since a person who has a BMI of 25 (upper ideal range) could approach 30 (obesity), over time, due to the habit of receiving sun exposure later in the day, e.g. 10:00 AM rather than 6:00 AM.

The authors suggested that the mechanisms by which early light exposure could influence the “slim” mechanisms, could be the following: (1) resetting the circadian rhythm (internal clock), (2) the greater quantity of blue light in morning sun and (3) effects on melatonin production. Whatever the mechanisms, we now know that early-morning sun is important to being slim. In addition, it may also be important to other health issues. Rather than think of sun exposure as the cure-all for obesity, we must realize that poor nutritional habits and lack of exercise are much more important. Nevertheless, sun exposure can furnish one more arrow in the quiver.

Sun exposure is far superior to vitamin D supplements in preventing weight gain.

Another scientific paper “sheds more light” on the subject of being slim.[3] This research was conducted on mice with shaved backs that were placed on a high-fat diet and then exposed to non-burning ultraviolet radiation (UVR) during a three-month experiment. The mice, without the benefit of UVR, would have been expected to gain weight rapidly, but when they were exposed to UVR, the weight gain was impressively reduced. Furthermore, the UVR treatment achieved 30-40% less weight gain, compared to the expected weight gain with the high-fat diet. So, not only can sun exposure produce slim humans, it can help to produce slim rats.

Other benefits for the rats included: significant reductions in glucose intolerance, insulin resistance and fasting insulin levels (all markers and predictors of diabetes), nonalcoholic fatty liver disease measures and cholesterol. All of these factors, including obesity, are part of a cluster of maladies known as the metabolic syndrome, or MetS, which is indicative of deteriorating health and susceptibility to heart disease and diabetes. Finally, almost all people who have the aforementioned indications of MetS have a large problem maintaining slim bodies. Not a surprise, eh?

Other interesting findings:

Supplementation with vitamin D actually reduced the aforementioned beneficial effects. Dr. Shelley Gorman, one of the authors, made the following three interesting observations:[4]

  1. “These findings were independent of circulating vitamin D and could not be mimicked by vitamin D supplementation.”
  2.  “It looked like the presence of vitamin D in mice on the high fat diet prevented the [beneficial] effect of UV radiation on weight gain.”
  3. She also mentioned the mechanism of weight loss may be dependent on nitric oxide (NO), which originates from diet and can be mobilized by UV radiation to become bioactive. This was due to the fact that in another part of the experiment, skin induction of nitric oxide (NO)—also a product of skin exposure to sun—reproduced many of the positive effects of UVR, something vitamin D supplements could not do.

The Authors conclusions:

The authors concluded their research thusly: These studies suggest UVR (sun exposure) may be an effective means of suppressing the development of obesity and MetS, through mechanisms independent of vitamin D but dependent on other UVR-induced mediators such as NO.”

It has been suggested that since low 25(OH)D levels correlate to obesity, those low levels are a possible cause of obesity. However, vitamin D is stored in fat tissue. Therefore, an increase in fat will lower the quantity of 25(OH)D circulating in the blood. Hence, low vitamin D is a consequence of obesity, and not the cause.[5]

Research continues to mount about the positive effects of sun exposure, independent of vitamin D production. This should in no way be construed to diminish the vital importance of vitamin D. Rather, it is to make a point that sun exposure works in many ways, including stimulating the production of vitamin D, NO, serotonin and endorphins. Why should we be satisfied with any one of these marvelous health aids when the sun is available? Because, with sun exposure, we can enjoy the benefits of the entire package.

So, being slim is dependent on a series of choices: avoiding junk food, eating large quantities of vegetables and fruits, taking a daily walk or engaging in other aerobic exercise, weight training and, finally, soaking up some daily, non-burning sunlight.

In conclusion: Stay slim, my friends.

[1] Katarina Ondrusova, Mohammad Fatehi , Amy Barr, Zofa Czarnecka, Wentong Long, Kunimasa Suzuki, Scott Campbell, Koenraad Philippaert, Matthew Hubert, Edward Tredget, Peter Kwan, Nicolas Touret, Martin Wabitsch, Kevin Y. Lee & Peter E. Light. Subcutaneous white adipocytes express a light sensitive signaling pathway mediated via a melanopsin/TRPC channel axis. Scientific Reports November 27;7:16332

[2] Reid KJ, Santostasi G, Baron KG, Wilson J, Kang J, Zee PC. Timing and intensity of light correlate with body weight in adults. PLoS One 2014;2;9(4)

[3] Geldenhuys S, Hart PH, Endersby R, Jacoby P, Feelisch M, Weller RB, Matthews V, Gorman S. Ultraviolet radiation suppresses obesity and symptoms of metabolic syndrome independently of vitamin D in mice fed a high-fat diet. Diabetes. 2014 Nov;63(11):3759-69

[4] Dr. Shelly Gorman, quoted on Science Network Australia article: Sun shines light on obesity challenge. http://www.sciencewa.net.au/topics/health-a-medicine/item/3618-sun-shines-light-on-obesity-challenge (accessed February 4, 2016)

[5] Cândido FG, Bressan J. Vitamin D: link between osteoporosis, obesity, and diabetes? Int J Mol Sci. 2014 Apr 17;15(4):6569-9.

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Reduce risk of liver cancer with Sunlight. Sun exposure is inversely associated with risk..

Sunlight fighting liver cancerAlthough liver cancer is generally thought to be related to drinking, other factor such as obesity, HIV infection, smoking, diabetes, socioeconomic factors, drugs and others come into play. A recent study compared sun exposure to liver cancer and adjusted for the aforementioned factors. Sun exposure was shown to be a major factor in reducing the risk of the most prevalent and deadly liver cancer, called hepatocellular carcinoma.[1]

Major finding for liver cancer:

The subjects were divided into five groups, or quintiles, based on their sun exposure. In addition such factors as as outdoor activity, geographical residence, urban or rural settings, etc. were adjusted for.

Most noteworthy, was the fact that for each quintile of increasing sun exposure, there was a 17% decrease in the liver cancer risk.

A disappointment:

The only disappointing part to the study was this: The researchers assumed that the positive influence of sun exposure on liver cancer was due to vitamin D production. And, they may have been correct. Yet the sun causes the body to produce many other photoproducts. Due to the sun’s myriad effects, serotonin, endorphin, BDNF, nitric oxide, and dopamine are all increased. Therefore, it is impossible to know if vitamin D alone was the reason for the reduced risk of liver cancer. However, vitamin D undoubtedly played a large part in the positive results.  And, there is a problem with giving vitamin D the credit without knowing for sure. People may believe, due to this research, that they need only to take a vitamin D supplement to receive all benefits of sunlight. Therefore, they can make very bad assumptions.

This is the first study on sun exposure and liver cancer.

Probably, this is the first research to show a link between liver cancer and inadequate sun exposure. However, there are indications that sun exposure is associated with a reduced risk of another liver ailment, called fatty liver disease.[2]

In conclusion, if you are a liver lover, you can love your liver by protecting it from liver cancer. Hence, you should obtain your share of unscreened, direct, non-burning sun exposure. Happy sunning!

[1] Trang VoPham, Kimberly A. Bertrand, Jian-Min Yuan, Rulla M. Tamimi, Jaime E. Hart,

and Francine Laden. Ambient ultraviolet radiation exposure and hepatocellular carcinoma incidence in the United States. Environmental Health (2017) 16:89.

[2] Gorman S, Black LJ, Feelisch M, Hart PH, Weller R. Can skin exposure to sun prevent liver inflammation? Nutrients 2015 May 5;7(5):3219-39.

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The slimming, healing Sun.

By Marc Sorenson, EdD, for safe sun exposure…

There is an alarming increase in obesity In the United States. Obesity is determined by a measurement called Body-mass index (BMI) which compares a person’s height with his weight and uses a mathematical formula for its calculation. To quickly calculate your BMI, go to this website: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm. A BMI less than 24.9 is considered normal; 25-29.9 overweight; 30 and over obese, and 40+ extremely (or morbidly) obese. Since the early 1960s the prevalence of obesity among adults more than doubled, increasing from 13.4% of adults in 1960 to 37.5% in 2010. We obviously have a severe problem, with two in three adults now either overweight or obese.[1]

There is little doubt as to the cause of obesity. We lack exercise, eat high-calorie junk foods and have moved away from sun exposure, this due to indoor living and a misguided fear of skin cancer. Most people would not put sun exposure in the list of causes, but research shows that it may play an important part in this increasing plague.

Marching in lockstep with the increase in obesity is an increase in type-2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, which is defined as group of disorders (high blood pressure, abdominal obesity, high cholesterol, high triglyceride levels, low HDL levels and insulin resistance) that are linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. This was the conclusion of a recent review on the influence of sun exposure on these conditions: “Overall, emerging findings suggest a protective role for UVR and sun exposure in reducing the development of obesity and cardiometabolic dysfunction.”[2]

Other research has led to similar conclusions. A recent study from Northwestern Medicine demonstrates that timing and intensity of light correlate with body mass index (BMI).[3] This research showed that exposure to bright morning light was directly related to BMI. After adjusting for confounders such as diet, exercise and sleep timing, it was determined that very early sun exposure correlated remarkably to lower BMI; even when light intensity was equal at different times of the day, those who received the earliest bright light had lower BMI. In fact, for each hour later in the day that the light exposure occurred, BMI increased by 1.28 units. This fact is exceptionally important, since a person who has a BMI of 25 (upper ideal range) could approach 30, or obesity, simply by the habit of sun exposure later in the day, i.e. 10:00 AM rather than 6:00 AM. The authors of this research suggested that the mechanisms involved in weight control by early light exposure could be the following: (1) resetting the circadian rhythm (internal clock), (2) the greater quantity of blue light in morning sun and (3) effects on melatonin production. Whatever the mechanisms, we now know that early-morning sun is important to weight control. It may also be important to other health issues.

Another scientific paper was recently published that “sheds more light” on the subject of obesity.[4] This research was conducted on mice that were placed on a high-fat diet and then exposed to non-burning ultraviolet radiation (UVR) during a three-month experiment. The mice, without the benefit of UVR, would have been expected to gain weight rapidly, but when they were exposed to UVR, the weight gain was impressively reduced; the UVR treatment achieved 30-40% less weight gain, compared to the expected weight gain with the high-fat diet. The quantity of UVR exposure to the mice was proportionally equal to the quantity of sun exposure that a human would be exposed to by standing in the sun for ten minutes at noon.

So add sun exposure to the list of aids for obesity. Just be safe and do not burn. Let’s learn to live off the fat of the land but not be part of it!

[1] https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/Pages/overweight-obesity-statistics.aspx

[2] Gorman S, Lucas RM, Allen-Hall A1, Fleury N, Feelisch M. Ultraviolet radiation, vitamin D and the development of obesity, metabolic syndrome and type-2 diabetes. Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2016 Dec 23. doi: 10.1039/c6pp00274a. [Epub ahead of print]

[3] Reid KJ, Santostasi G, Baron KG, Wilson J, Kang J, Zee PC. Timing and intensity of light correlate with body weight in adults. PLoS One 2014;2;9(4)

[4] Geldenhuys S, Hart PH, Endersby R, Jacoby P, Feelisch M, Weller RB, Matthews V, Gorman S. Ultraviolet radiation suppresses obesity and symptoms of metabolic syndrome independently of vitamin D in mice fed a high-fat diet. Diabetes. 2014 Nov;63(11):3759-69

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Sun Exposure reduces Obesity; Vitamin D does not.

By Marc Sorenson, EdD. Sunlight Institute…

Sun exposure reduces the risk of obesity, and that relationship has been credited to vitamin D. However, one study, conducted on mice, shows that vitamin D may have nothing to do with reducing or preventing obesity.[1] The animals were placed on a high-fat diet to cause obesity. Then they were subjected to long-term exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR), (which is the same sunlight spectrum that leads to the production of vitamin D and other photoproducts). The UVR significantly suppressed weight gain and other measures of the metabolic syndrome (MetS), including glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, fasting insulin levels, fatty liver disease and serum cholesterol levels.

Interestingly, when the animals were supplemented with vitamin D, no such benefits occurred, meaning that UVR created the positive protections independently. However when nitric oxide was applied to the skin of the animals, the positive effects on weight loss and metabolic syndrome were again observed. Nitric oxide, of course, is another photoproduct of sun exposure, which has many positive health effects.

Other research showed that early-morning sun exposure was correlated to lower body-mass index (BMI) which is a measure of body fatness.[2] The authors of that research suggested that the mechanisms involved in weight control by early light exposure could be the following: (1) resetting the circadian rhythm (internal clock), (2) the greater quantity of blue light in morning sun and (3) effects on melatonin production. Whatever the mechanisms, we now know that early-morning sun is important to weight control. It may also be important to other health issues. But before we begin to think that sun exposure is the cure-all for obesity, realize that poor nutritional habits and lack of exercise are much more important. Nevertheless, sun exposure can furnish one more arrow in the quiver of protection from obesity.

Get your sun exposure and stay slim! Be careful not to burn.

[1] Geldenhuys S, Hart PH, Endersby R, Jacoby P, Feelisch M, Weller RB, Matthews V, Gorman S. Ultraviolet radiation suppresses obesity and symptoms of metabolic syndrome independently of vitamin D in mice fed a high-fat diet. Diabetes. 2014 Nov;63(11):3759-69.

[2] Reid KJ, Santostasi G, Baron KG, Wilson J, Kang J, Zee PC. Timing and intensity of light correlate with body weight in adults. PLoS One 2014;2;9(4)

 

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Sun Exposure, artificial Light and Weight Control

Sun Exposure, artificial light and weight control. Marc Sorenson, EdD… Sunlight Institute

Sun exposure gives life and has so many positive effects, including anticancer, anti-heart disease, and anti-osteoporosis. Unnatural light, however can do exactly the opposite. In the case of obesity, artificial light at night (ALAN) can lead to weight gain, according to a study in the International Journal of Obesity.[1]

The hormone melatonin works in conjunction with serotonin during each daily physiological cycle, known as the circadian rhythm. Serotonin is a natural “upper” that awakens our senses and prepares us for our workday. Then, when the rhythms are properly synchronized, as evening comes, serotonin decreases and melatonin, a sleep inducer, takes over so that we can sleep soundly and awake refreshed as daylight and serotonin once more take over. However, a monkey wrench is often thrown into the works. It is called artificial light at night (ALAN), and it may be one of many factors that lead to obesity. ALAN inhibits melatonin production, a factor in both obesity and cancer.

The researchers looked at satellite images of 80 countries, assessed the amount of ALAN emitted from each country and then compared the rates of obesity in each. The data was adjusted to take into consideration the differing dietary patterns in each country, as well as the urban vs rural population and other factors that would influence obesity.

The results showed, that after all adjustments, ALAN emerged as a prominent predictor for obesity.

So how does this relate to sun exposure? One of my recent posts noted the results of research on early morning sun exposure and obesity, noting that early sun exposure inhibited obesity dramatically.[2] So not all light is good. Light at night is harmful; early morning sun exposure is wonderful. And if one wants to remain slim, it is imperative to eschew junk food, exercise and get plenty of non-burning sun exposure.

[1] Rybnikova NA, Haim A, Portnov BA. Does artificial light-at-night exposure contribute to the worldwide obesity pandemic? International Journal of Obesity. Int J Obes (Lond). 2016 May;40(5):815-23.

[2] Reid KJ, Santostasi G, Baron KG, Wilson J, Kang J, et al. Timing and Intensity of Light Correlate with Body Weight in Adults. PLoS ONE 2014 9(4): e92251. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0092251

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Birth Season and Vitamin D Levels as Adults

By Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute…

We all know that high sunlight exposure in adults leads to higher vitamin D levels. However, a most interesting piece of research also shows that your birth month has a considerable influence on vitamin D levels. In an Italian study, it was found that those who were born in winter, rather than spring and summer, were 11% more likely to develop vitamin D deficiency later in life.[i] This is an important finding, since many diseases are related in one way or another to season of birth. For example, a greater risk of obesity risk is observed in Canadians born in winter. Nevertheless, other factors such as inactivity are more important than season of birth.[ii]

This is another study that ties sunlight to vitamin D. But the question may still be asked: Is the relationship of birth seasonality to disease due to vitamin D or sunlight, or both? Whatever the answer, sunlight is the factor that makes vitamin D, so safely soak up the sun whenever you have the opportunity, and when it is too cold or overcast, safely use a sun lamp or tanning bed.

[i] Lippi G, Bonelli P, Buonocore R, Aloe R. Birth season and vitamin D concentration in adulthood. Ann Transl Med. 2015 Sep;3(16):231.

[ii] Wattie N1, Ardern CI, Baker J. Season of birth and prevalence of overweight and obesity in Canada. Early Hum Dev. 2008 Aug;84(8):539-47.

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Sleep Deprivation, Metabolic Syndrome and Sunlight

By Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute

It is becoming increasingly obvious that lack of sleep is a major risk factor for human health. In a recent study reported in the journal Sleep Medicine,[i] 2579 adults without metabolic syndrome, were assessed for sleep habits for 2.6 years to determine their risk of developing metabolic syndrome, also known as Met S. Met S is a group of metabolic disorders (high blood pressure, abdominal obesity, high cholesterol, high triglyceride levels, low HDL levels and insulin resistance) that are linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. The participants were aged between 40 and 70 years.

Those who slept and average of less than 6 hours daily were 41% more likely to develop Met S than those who slept 6-7.9 hours. Among the measurements that were particularly concerning, were a 30% increased risk of high blood glucose and excess belly fat (both indications of future diabetes), and a 56% higher risk of high blood pressure. The researchers concluded that “Short sleep duration is an independent risk factor for incident metabolic syndrome in a population-based longitudinal study.”

Indeed, Lack of sleep can be deadly. Forbes Magazine online ran an excellent article on sunlight and sleep,[ii] in which they stated the following statistics: “In 2012, 60 Million Americans filled prescriptions for sleeping pills, up from 46 million in 2006.” The article discusses the potential dangers of sleep medications, showing that those who take 18 pills per year have a tripling of the risk of death compared to those who take fewer than that 18. It then describes the results of research showing that people whose workplaces have windows are able to sleep about 46 minutes per night more than those who have no natural light access.  Those who had more exposure to sunlight also were generally happier, had fewer ailments and experienced better vitality than their counterparts without windows.

Many individuals have difficulty sleeping long and soundly enough to feel refreshed. A study by Dr. Julie Gammack exposed test subjects to 30-60 minutes per day of direct sunlight, and according to the Saint Louis University health web site, “Nursing home patients who were exposed to natural light had improved sleep quality, less difficulty falling asleep, fewer episodes of wakefulness during the night and greater satisfaction with the amount of sleep they got.”[iii] Other research by Dr. Ayoub and colleagues in Alexandria, Egypt demonstrated that there were several factors associated with insomnia among the elderly. [iv] Having five or more diseases was associated with a 7.5 times increased risk, anxiety was associated with a 1.9 times increased risk, and depression with a 1.74 times increased risk. There was only one factor that reduced risk. Sunlight exposure was associated with 43% reduced risk. Likely, this was due to the production of serotonin and melatonin due to sunlight exposure (see the last paragraph. Other research has shown that sleep disturbances are more common in sub-arctic areas during the dark time of the year.[v] The message? If one wants to sleep well, sunlight exposure during the day is imperative.

This research on windows is particularly interesting because the effects of sunlight in that case could have had nothing to do with vitamin D, since the sunlight exposure came through windows, which block the UVB light that produces vitamin D. It is likely that the positive effects of sunlight in this case were produced by increasing serotonin levels (a natural mood enhancer) in the brain during the sunlight exposure, and then allowing melatonin (a natural relaxer) during the night.

Lack of sleep is a common, and perhaps deadly, malady. The sun is not our enemy, but a vital friend. Embrace it, but do not burn.

[i] Jang-Young Kim, Dhananjay Yadav, Song Vogue Ahn, , Sang-Baek Koh. A prospective study of total sleep duration and incident metabolic syndrome: the ARIRANG study. Sleep Medicine 2015;16:1511-1515.

[ii] http://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2013/06/18/to-get-more-sleep-get-more-sunlight/

[iii] Gammack, J. Quoted in Medical News Today, April 10, 2005.

[iv] Ayoub AI, Attia M, El Kady HM, Ashour A. Insomnia among community dwelling elderly in Alexandria, Egypt. J Egypt Public Health Assoc. 2014 Dec;89(3):136-42.

[v] Bratlid T, Wahlund B. Alterations in serum melatonin and sleep in individuals in a sub-arctic region from winter to spring. Int J Circumpolar Health. 2003 Sep;62(3):242-54.

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