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. 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. 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, 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!
 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.
 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.
By Marc Sorenson, EdD. Sunlight Institute….
I sent this letter to a good friend who just suffered a triple compression fracture while doing yoga. She is a dynamic and accomplished person who has been a competitive athlete for much of her life, and has helped many people to save their lives from various diseases through her books and lectures. Many would think her vegan lifestyle would have protected her against weak bones. However, after having a common skin cancer appear on her body, her dermatologist told her to avoid the sun. She stopped most of her sun exposure and didn’t take vitamin D. Her bones had previously been exceptionally strong for her age. Obviously, the change in sun habits had very deleterious effects, as I explained in the letter. Her name has been changed for the purpose of this blog.
Dear Barbara,It is great to hear from you! I only wish the circumstances were better for you.Unless you are sunbathing regularly, the recommendation for 1,000 IU of vitamin D is woefully inadequate. For someone with weak bones, 5,000 IU would be my suggestion. Does my memory serve me right about your having a skin cancer? If you started avoiding sun exposure after that time, then that is the reason for your bone weakness. Sun exposure is the best way to obtain vitamin D and many other photoproducts such as nitric oxide and serotonin. Endorphins are also produced by sun exposure.Women in Spain who actively seek the sun have about 9% of the risk of a fracture as women who stay indoors. Or stated another way, women who avoid the sun have 11 times the risk of fracture. And of course, the few fractures experienced by sun seekers are probably due to some traumatic incident, not weak bones. Sunning per se is far more effective than vitamin D supplementation per se for producing and maintaining strong bones. Sun exposure is also far more effective that a vegan diet, although the diet certainly reduces the risk. Nonetheless, vegans who avoid the sun, because they believe their alkaline diet will totally protect them, are setting themselves up for fractures. Athletes who believe that exercise will protect them are also making a mistake. Sun is the great bone protector.For light-skinned Caucasians, 20 minutes of unprotected sun exposure at midday, on each side of the body, will produce about 20,000 IU of vitamin D. Naked at noon is the best, if you can find a place to be private. Don’t burn as your skin becomes used to it. Remember also that melanoma, the deadly skin cancer, is about twice as common among indoor workers as outdoor workers who are habitually in the sun. Occasional blasts of sun that burn you, however, may increase the risk. Don’t burn. “Habitually” is the operative word for sunbathing.The non-melanoma skin cancers(NMSC), aka common skin cancers, are a different story; sun exposure does increase the risk. However, these cancers are almost never fatal, and if caught early can be removed immediately. People who have high numbers of these cancers have far fewer melanomas. Also, your diet of dark greens and colorful fruits such as blackberries, raspberries, pomegranates, is protective against developing these cancers.Remember also that sunscreens are deadly and their use is associated with an increase in melanoma. They will halt vitamin D production by about 99% in the area that is covered with them.I would suggest that you go to my blog site, http://sunlightinstitute.org/ and search osteoporosis, bone and fracture. I wrote a short article last week on osteoporosis in sunny areas (reason: too much indoor living, and too much clothing). There are many more blogs on the site that talk about bone strength. Go to News and then use the search bar there.Another suggestion. If you still have my book Vitamin D3 and Solar Power, read the section on bone health. There is much more information now, but the information in the book will serve as a guide.My new book, Embrace the Sun should be available sometime this summer.One last thought, women who totally avoid the sun are at 1,000% increased risk for breast cancer compared to women who are regularly exposed.Sunshine and blessings,MarcDon’t make Barbara’s mistake. Safely soak up some midday sun and preserve your bones.
By Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute..
A new article in Tech Times[i] reminded me of the sometimes terrible consequences of chemical sunscreen use. We know that melanoma incidence has paralleled the increase in sun exposure (see my previous blog), meaning that at best sunscreens are a waste of time and money, and at worst they are dangerous.
The dangers of chemical sunscreens are numerous in terms of health: feminization of humans, animals and fish are just a few. However, there is also a terrific environmental impact that has to do with the harm to the environment. A study from the Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology regarding the detrimental effects of Oxybenzone, one of the worst (and most used) of the sunscreen ingredients, stated that Oxybenzone is a photo-toxicant, meaning that its adverse effects are exacerbated in the light.[ii] Does this chemical sound like something you’d like to apply to your skin while out in the sunlight?
The researchers also stated: “Oxybenzone is an emerging contaminant of concern in the marine environment.” The researchers found that a small dollop of sunscreen in six Olympic-sized pools caused a disruption of coral growth. Such disruption leads to a whitening and killing of the marine activity of the coral reefs. This is accomplished by ossification of a free-swimming larva called a planula, which kills it and stops the growth of coral reefs.
Here are a few of the other facts about oxybenzone and other chemical sunscreens:
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in 2008 released a study showing that 96.8% of Americans at age six are contaminated with oxybenzone and that women were 3.5 times as likely to have high concentrations as men.[iii] The authors suggest that the greater use by women of personal-care products, most of which contain sunscreens, is the reason for their higher degree of contamination; oxybenzone is used in 588 sunscreens and in 567 other personal-care products.[iv] An incredible 9% or more of the applied amount is absorbed through the skin.[v]
Pregnant mothers exposed to oxybenzone gave birth to babies with low birth weights,[vi] which “programs” the developing child for greater risks of heart disease, hypertension, type-2 diabetes and other diseases in adulthood.[vii] Furthermore, sunlight causes the chemical to become a potent allergen[viii] [ix] and to form free radicals.[x]
Other dangers of sunscreen chemicals are their potential “gender-bending” characteristics; they increase estrogen and decrease testosterone in men[xi] [xii] and may be partly responsible for the nearly 50% reduction of sperm count in the last few decades.[xiii] Sunscreen chemicals are also known to cause the feminization of fish,[xiv] and environmental pollution by these and similarly-structured chemicals are now thought to cause feminization in alligators and the gradual extinction of Florida panthers due to failure to breed.[xv]
Enjoy the sun safely by covering up when you have had enough. Chemical sunscreens are not the answer.
[ii] C. A. Downs , Esti Kramarsky-Winter, Roee Segal, John Fauth, Sean Knutson, Omri Bronstein, Frederic R. Ciner, Rina Jeger, Yona Lichtenfeld et al. Toxicopathological Effects of the Sunscreen UV Filter, Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3), on Coral Planulae and Cultured Primary Cells and Its Environmental Contamination in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology Oct 20 2015.
[iii] Calafat AM, Wong LY, Ye X, Reidy JA, Needham LL. Concentrations of the Sunscreen Agent, Benzophenone-3, in Residents of the United States: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003–2004. (available at http://dx.doi.org/).
[iv] Environmental Working Group: Americans Carry Body Burden of Toxic Sunscreen Chemical. March 25, 2008. (available at http://www.ewg.org/node/26212).
[v] Hayden CG, Roberts MS, Benson HA. Systemic absorption of sunscreen after topical application. Lancet 1997:350:863-64.
[vi] Wolff MS, Engel SM, Berkowitz GS, Ye X, Silva MJ, Zhu C, Wetmur J, Calafat AM. Prenatal Phenol and Phthalate Exposures and Birth Outcomes. National Institutes of Health USA Department of Health and Human Services. doi:10.1289/ehp.11007 (available at http://dx.doi.org/)
[vii] Lau C, Rogers JM. 2004. Embryonic and fetal programming of physiological disorders in adulthood. Birth Defects Res C Embryo Today 2004;72:300-12.
[viii] Bryden AM, Moseley H, Ibbotson SH, Chowdhury MM, Beck MH, Bourke J, English J, Farr P, et al. Photopatch testing of 1155 patients: results of the U.K. multicentre photopatch group. The British Journal of Dermatology 155:737-47
[ix] Rodriguez E, Valbuena MC, Rey M, Porras de Quintana L. 2006. Causal agents of photoallergic contact dermatitis diagnosed in the national institute of dermatology of Colombia. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed 2006;22:189-92.
[x] Environmental Working Group: Americans Carry Body Burden of Toxic Sunscreen Chemical. March 25, 2008. (available at http://www.ewg.org/node/26212).
[xi] Environmental Working Group: Americans Carry Body Burden of Toxic Sunscreen Chemical. March 25, 2008. (available at http://www.ewg.org/node/26212).
[xii] Ma R, Cotton B, Lichtensteiger W, Schlumpf M. UV Filters with Antagonistic Action at Androgen Receptors in the MDA-kb2 Cell Transcriptional-Activation Assay. Toxicological Sciences 2003;74:43-50.
[xiii] Pickart, L. The Chemical Sunscreen Health Disaster 2000-2008. (available at http://www.skinbiology.com/toxicsunscreens.html)
[xiv] Kunz PY, Galicia HF, Fent K. Comparison of in vitro and in vivo estrogenic activity of UV filters in fish. Toxicol Sci 2006:90:349-61.
[xv] Pickart, L. The Chemical Sunscreen Health Disaster. 2000-2008. (available at http://www.skinbiology.com/toxicsunscreens.html)
[xvi] Brand RM, Pike J, Wilson RM, Charron AR. Sunscreens containing physical UV blockers can increase transdermal absorption of pesticides. Toxicol Ind Health. 2003;19:9-16.
[xvii] Pont AR, Charron AR, Brand RM. Active ingredients in sunscreens act as topical penetration enhancers for the herbicide 2,4 dichlorophenoxyacetic acid. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2004;195:348-54.
By Marc Sorenson, EdD
Drs. Asta Juzeniene and Johan Moan wrote a paper in 2012 that beautifully summarizes the effects of sunlight beyond the production of vitamin D. Here are the highlights of their paper, as stated in the abstract. They discuss the separate affects of Ultraviolet B light (UVB) and ultraviolet A light (UVA), which are, of course, components of sunlight.
- UVB induces cosmetic tanning (immediate pigment darkening, persistent pigment darkening and delayed tanning).
- UVB-induced, delayed tanning acts as a sunscreen.
- Several human skin diseases, like psoriasis, vitiligo, atopic dermatitis and localized scleroderma, can be treated with sunlight or artificial UV radiation (phototherapy).
- UV exposure can suppresses multiple sclerosis independently of vitamin D synthesis.
- UVA generates nitric oxide (NO), which may reduce blood pressure and generally improve cardiovascular health.
- UVA induced NO may also have antimicrobial effects.
- UVA induced NO may act as a neurotransmitter.
- UV exposure may improve mood through the release of endorphin.
It wasn’t mentioned in the paper, but we now know that sunlight also helps generate serotonin in the brain, which improves mood, and outside the body it is a potent disinfectant (see my recent blogs on those subjects). So those who claim that sunlight is harmful in any amount, must be living on a different planet. Embrace the Sun, but never burn.
 Asta Juzeniene and Johan Moan. Beneficial effects of UV radiation other than via vitamin D production. Dermato-Endocrinology 4:2, 109–117; April/May/June 2012.
By Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute
In an online Newspaper, Irish Examiner, there is a provocative headline: Why a sunscreen can put your health in the shade. Helen O’Callaghan, the author, starts out well by talking about how sunscreens block vitamin D production from sun exposure. She then progresses through a series of diseases that are related to vitamin D deficiency: bone weakness, compromised immune system, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, inflammatory diseases, adverse pregnancy problems and allergies.
Dr. Mercola, whose natural-health website is probably the most popular in the world, just posted an article that corroborates my beliefs regarding sunscreens, sunlight exposure, and the misguided advice of the dermatological industry. In it he makes several important points:
(1) The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) has been “bought” by cosmetics giant Neutrogena for $200,000, with the supposed goal of helping to educate the public about the importance of sunscreens. In reality, it is a marketing ploy for Neutrogena which will help them to increase their sunscreen sales by $millions.
(2) Regular sunlight exposure is inversely correlated to many diseases, including cancer (one is melanoma), heart disease, dental diseases, muscle weakness, high blood pressure, kidney disease, osteoporosis and weakened immunity.
(3) Some well-known dermatologists have said stated that sunlight exposure is not an efficient method of increasing vitamin D levels–an obvious falsehood.
(4) Tanning beds have taken a bad rap; they are capable of increasing health benefits, provided the correct type of bed is used–one with the correct ration of UVA to UVB.
(5) Typical chemical sunscreens can actually increase the risk of developing skin cancer and may have many other deleterious effects.
(6) Antioxidants from food can dramatically reduce the risk of skin damage from sunlight.
Dr. Mercola’s comments about the cozy relationship between Neutrogena and the CCS did not come as a surprise to me, since Neutrogena for years has paid $300,000 per year to the American Cancer Society (ACS) for the right to use the ACS logo in their advertising. What a great way to sell sunscreens! As Dr. Bernard Ackerman (a famous and enlightened dermatologist) stated in his scathing attack on his own profession, ” The American Academy of Dermatology, the Skin-Cancer Foundations and the American Cancer Society sold their seals of recommendation to sunscreen manufacturers, the price being substantial in terms of dollars, but incalculable in regards to tarnish of honor.” (A Bernard Ackerman, dermatologist. The Sun and the “Epidemic” of Melanoma: Myth on Myth 2008.)
So Kudos to Dr Mercola, who is helping to expose the truth about sunlight’s marvelous health benefits, and the fraud behind the anti-sun movement. Be sure to read his entire article.
By: Dr. Marc Sorenson, Sunlight Institute–
Should children over the age of six months use sunscreen year-round, even in sunless, cloudy weather? Of course not—but that idea may make $millions for the sunscreen manufacturers.
How convenient for the Skin Cancer Foundation to state, “for adequate protection against melanoma, non-melanoma skin cancers and photo-aging, everyone over the age of six months should use sunscreen daily year-round, in any weather.” The Skin Cancer Foundation, of course, was founded by sunscreen manufacturers, which are forbidden by the FDA to claim that their products prevent melanoma. This statement by the FDA belies the claims of the Skin Cancer Foundation: “the available evidence fails to show that sunscreen use alone helps prevent skin cancer or premature skin aging. Thus, the anti-aging, skin cancer, and sun damage claims proposed by the comments [of the sunscreen industry] would be false or misleading due to lack of sufficient data in support of these claims.” Dr. Bernard Ackerman, a celebrated dermatologist, has further stated, “…the American Academy of Dermatology, the Skin Cancer Foundation and the American Cancer Society sold their seals of recommendation to manufacturers of sunscreen, the price being substantial in terms of dollars but incalculable in regard to tarnish of honor.” He continued, “…sunscreen companies pay it [the Skin Cancer Foundation] many thousands of dollars annually in the hope of gaining many millions of dollars in return.”
Sunscreens block UVB and are (supposedly) intended to decrease sun damage to the skin—damage that is said to increase the risk of melanoma. Sunscreen use has increased considerably in the past few decades. Therefore, if sunlight exposure is the cause of melanoma, there should be an accompanying decrease in melanoma. Exactly the opposite has happened. According to Kline & Company, a research group, sales of sunscreens in 1972 were $33 million; in 2008, sales were $650 million. In addition, according to the Fredonia Market Research Group Company, the sale of sunscreens used in cosmetics in 2007 was $130 million. Therefore, the total sales of sunscreens as of 2007 were $780 million. Considering that a dollar’s value is only about 20% of what it was in 1972, the adjusted 2008 sunscreen expenditures are approximately $156 million, or about 4.7 times the 1972 figure. In other words, sunscreen use has increased by about 4.7 times. Population has also grown from 210 million in 1972 to 305 million in 2008—a 50% increase. Adjusting for population growth, it can be concluded that per-capita sunscreen use has at least tripled in the time frame being considered—the figure may actually be much higher. It is counterintuitive then, to state that sunscreen use prevents melanoma.
Consider the following: Melanoma incidence, according to the Melanoma International Foundation (MIF) has increased steadily and exponentially since 1935. Sunscreen use, as just explained, has also increased. Therefore, the data on increasing sunscreen use does not indicate that sunlight exposure increases the risk of melanoma; rather, it indicates that sunscreen use may contribute to the increase in melanoma. It has been shown that an SPF 15 sunscreen will decrease sun-stimulated vitamin D production by 99.5%, and it has been suggested that by blocking only UVB light (which stimulates the production of vitamin D in skin) while leaving UVA unblocked, sunscreens ironically may lead to UVA damage of DNA, leading to melanoma.  Increasing melanoma rates, coupled with increasing use of sunscreens, lends credence to that hypothesis. Vitamin D also provides photoprotection (protection against sun damage) by facilitating DNA repair. We gain nothing by eliminating vitamin D production through sunscreen use.
So why should the Skin Cancer Foundation make such a ludicrous statement? The answer is this: follow the money.
 The Skin Cancer Foundation’s “Guide to Sunscreen” http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/sunscreen/the-skin-c…
 Proposed Rules, Federal Register # 165 2007;72: 49070.
 A Bernard Ackerman, The sun and the “epidemic” of Melanoma: Myth on Myth! 2008
 Kline & Company’s Cosmetics & Toiletries USA Annual Service (1972 and 2008 editions).
 Fredonia market research group report, 2009.
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.
 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.
 Garland CF, Garland FC, Gorham ED. Could sunscreens increase melanoma risk? Am J Public Health 1992;82(4):614-5.
 Garland CF, Garland FC, Gorham ED. Rising trends in melanoma. An hypothesis concerning sunscreen effectiveness. Ann Epidemiol 1993 Jan;3(1):103-10.
 Mason R, et al. Photoprotection by 1_,25-dihydroxyvitamin D and analogs: Further studies on mechanisms and implications for UV-damage. Journal of Steroid Biochemistry & Molecular Biology 121 (2010) 164–168.
By: Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute–
It is undeniable that sunscreen use has profoundly increased in the past few decades, and in spite of that increase, the incidence of melanoma (CMM) continues to climb in the US. A new report, actually a clinical review in the Journal or the American Board of Family Practice, comes to the following conclusions:
- “Despite the availability and promotion of sunscreen for decades, the incidence of CMM continues to increase in the U.S. at a rate of 3% per year.”
- There currently is little evidence that sunscreens are protective against CMM.
- A number of studies suggest that the use of sunscreen does not significantly decrease the risk CMM, and may actually increase the risk of both CMM and sunburns.
The author of the report, Dr. Margaret Planta, also notes that the environmental protection Agency (EPA), states that “there is no evidence that sunscreens protect you from malignant melanoma.”
The Melanoma International Foundation has (MIF) has stated, “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 1500 was struck by the disease.” In other words, as sun exposure has dramatically decreased, melanoma has exponentially increased. Quite obviously, the use of sunscreens has been one reason for the decrease in sunlight exposure. Consider this: if UVR exposure is the cause of CMM as stated by the IMF, there should be a concomitant decrease in melanoma as sunscreen use has increased. However, according to Kline & Company, a research group, sales of sunscreens in 1972 were $33 million; in 2008, sales were $650 million. In addition, according to the Fredonia Market Research Group Company, the sales of sunscreens used in cosmetics in 2007 were $130 million. Interestingly, the MIF suggests that we must do a better job of teaching people to avoid the sun. Isn’t there something terribly wrong with that reasoning?
Sunscreen is a big business that is of no real value to anyone but those who sell it. Follow the money and you will see the reason for the continuing promotion of sunscreens. So hats off to Dr. Planta, who has done her part to expose the sunscreen swindle. After her analysis, she states … “providers may need to alter their advice regarding sunscreen use for CMM prevention.”
 Margaret B. Planta, MD Sunscreen and Melanoma: Is Our Prevention Message Correct? J Am Board Fam Med 2011;24:735–739.
 United States Environmental Protection Agency. Sunscreen: The Burning Facts. Available at: http://www.epa.gov/sunwise/doc/sunscreen.pdf.
 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.
 Kline & Company’s Cosmetics & Toiletries USA Annual Service (1972 and 2008 editions).
 Fredonia market research group report, 2009.
By: Marc Sorenson, EdD, Sunlight Institute–
In the rush by dermatologists and sunscreen companies to demonize sunlight exposure as the universal cause of skin cancers, there has been a total disregard for another factor that strongly protects against or strongly promotes skin damage. That factor is what we eat. Nutrition, according to whether it is healthful or noxious, can have either profoundly positive or negative influences on the skin.
As an example, polyphenols are antioxidant phytochemicals that prevent free-radical damage and thus protect the skin. Polyphenols are prevalent in foods such as nuts, seeds, onions, green tea, pomegranates, apples, berries, cherries and other fruits, grape seeds, as well as vegetables and dried legumes. They also exist in such nutrients as resveratrol and silymarin (milk thistle extract). These nutritional superstars are able to reduce inflammation, quench oxidative stress and thereby prevent free-radical damage to DNA, inhibit immunosuppression, and diminish dysregulation of cellular signaling pathways, thereby reducing the potential for skin cancers.[i],[ii]
Particularly interesting is the fact that green tea extract and other polyphenol-containing products such as grape-seed proanthocyanadins, have been shown to inhibit the formation of skin tumors. Two researchers, writing in the Archives of Dermatological Research, made the following conclusion after a thorough review of literature regarding polyphenols and skin cancer: “Based on the epidemiological evidence and laboratory studies conducted using in vitro and in vivo systems, it is suggested that routine consumption or topical treatment of these polyphenols may provide efficient protection against the harmful effects of solar ultraviolet radiation in humans.”2
We might conclude that protective nutrition would include the consumption of several glasses of green tea daily, some dark green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and other deep greens, and the daily habit of eating dark berries, cherries and other such fruits. But there are other vegetables involved in the fight against skin cancer.
Some of the best skin protectants are tomatoes, which contain the antioxidant lycopene. One investigation showed that among individuals who consumed forty grams of tomato paste daily for ten weeks, sunburn-resistance time increased by 40%,[iii] and other research demonstrated that eating other tomato-based products correlated to significantly reduced risk of sunburn after exposure to ultraviolet radiation.[iv] And it is also known that individuals with the lowest intake of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, cryptoxanthin, lutein, and lycopene (all carotenoid antioxidants found in such vegetables as carrots and tomatoes) had a 50% increased risk for melanoma.[v]
And what are factors that have negative influences on the risk of skin cancer? Alcohol consumption is one such factor; research indicated a 250% increased melanoma risk among those who consumed two or more alcoholic drinks per day.[vi] There are at least two other negative dietary aspects that correlate to increased skin-cancer risk: first, the highest dairy-product consumption has also been shown to correlate to a 2 ½ times increase in risk of developing a squamous-cell carcinoma (common skin cancer, not melanoma).[vii] Secondly, the types of fats we consume are exceptionally important. In my book, I have discussed and documented this topic thoroughly, but suffice it to say that the types of fats we consume in junk foods are deadly, both for overall health and for skin cancer. They are filled with free-radical molecules that wreak havoc on the skin; if we eat such fats without massive quantities of colorful fruits and veggies, we will be much more susceptible to skin damage and potential cancer.
To summarize: to the extent that sunlight causes skin damage, it does so due to lack of proper nutrients in the diet, and there is little doubt that there will be some damage caused by sun exposure without proper nutrition. Even vitamin D, which protects against so many cancers (including skin cancer), will not be able to completely overcome the deleterious effect of the “suicide diet” that most of us consume.
[i] Afaq F, Katiyar SK. Polyphenols: Skin Photoprotection and Inhibition of Photocarcinogenesis. Mini Rev Med Chem 2011 Oct 28. [Epub ahead of print]
[ii] Afaq F, Katiyar SK. Skin photoprotection by natural polyphenols: Anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and DNA repair mechanisms. Arch Dermatol Res 2010;302:71.
[iii] Stahl, W. et al. Dietary Tomato Paste Protects against Ultraviolet Light–Induced Erythema in Humans. J Nutr 2001;131:1449-51.
[iv] Aust, O. et al. Supplementation with tomato-based products increases lycopene, phytofluene, and phytoene levels in human serum and protects against UV-light-induced erythema. Int J Vitam Nutr Res 2005;75:54-60.
[v] Millen A. et al. Diet and melanoma in a case-control study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2004;13:1042-51
[vi] Bain, C. et al. Diet and melanoma. An exploratory case-control study. Ann Epidemiol 1993;3:235-38.
[vii] 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.
According to Dr. Sujata Udeshi, 98% of her patients present with deficiencies of either vitamin D or vitamin B12, which she attributes to lack of sunlight exposure, the use of sun blocks and the consumption of processed foods. And interestingly, she recommends that sunlight exposure takes place between the hours of 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM, exactly the time of day that the sunscare practioners tell us to avoid sunlight. It is good to see more health practitioners suggesting reasonable sun exposure.