Fishermen receive skin protection through sun exposure and vitamin D, by Marc Sorenson, EdD.
Fishermen in Brazil spend plenty of time on the sea and have healthy skin. Furthermore, they soak up vast quantities of direct sun exposure. Thus, should we expect them to succumb to incredibly high rates of skin cancer? No! Does this seem like a paradox? It should not. It is the perfectly natural outcome of plenty of non-burning sun exposure. This will seem clear to you if you have read my book, Embrace the Sun.
Recent research from Brazil produced some large and fascinating surprises. In addition, it changed a few minds regarding knowledge of sunlight’s healthful qualities. First of all, it illuminated sunlight’s protective effects against skin cancer, particularly in fishermen.
So how much sunlight do fishermen in Brazil soak up daily?
Due to their profession, commercial fishermen chronically expose themselves to sunlight. So, in this research, they had soaked up Brazilian sunlight for more than 15 years. The average exposure time was 21 to 28 hours weekly! Consequently, these fishermen received a sunlight dose 6-8 times higher than indoor workers did. Therefore, you might surmise that they used lots of sunscreen. Yet they did not. It is especially relevant that 62% of this population of fishermen used none. Must we therefore conclude that they suffered exceptionally high skin cancer risk? No. The frequency of skin-cancer diagnoses was 2.7% of the study population of 174 fishermen (and fisher women). The researchers stated, “There was a low prevalence of diagnosed skin cancer among the fishermen when compared to the general population.”
So there you have it. The general population, with comparatively little sun exposure, suffers from a high skin cancer risk.
Yet, fishermen practically bake in the sun every day, and have a minuscule risk of skin cancer. This paradox should be easily understood. Sun exposure is a superb prophylactic against skin cancer and most other cancers if used regularly and safely without burning. Remember that it causes the body to produce vitamin D, which may also provide protection against skin cancer.