Benefits of sun exposure by Marc Sorenson, EdD.
A new study on nutrition and skin aging corroborates what I have said previously in this blog: Sunlight is not the guilty party when skin problems occur; it is only one of many factors that influence the skin, and in some cases the influence is protective. And of course, sun exposure influence on the other organs of the body is overwhelmingly healthful.
To the extent that sun 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. We eat too many toxic fats, too much meat and cheese, too much sugar and too many refined carbohydrates. At the same time we eat far too few vegetables and fruits, which can protect all the tissues in the body, including skin. Much of that protection is due to the high antioxidant levels of fruits and veggies. It is normal for humans to be exposed to sunlight, and it is equally normal for humans to take in the nutrients necessary to prevent skin damage, so that the sun may heal the body without harming our largest organ.
One of those antioxidants is astaxanthin, a new “superstar” in the antioxidant field. A new study shows that a group of mice that were exposed to Ultraviolet A Light (UVA,) lost water in the skin and developed wrinkles (both signs of skin aging). But in a group of mice that were also exposed to UVA and were supplemented with astaxanthin, no such skin aging occurred. This information demonstrates that poor nutritional habits may make sun exposure dangerous to the skin, because it is working without God’s natural balancing through nutrition. Our atrocious eating (and drinking) habits lead to skin damage, and sun exposure gets the blame.
Fruits and vegetable consumption help protect the skin, but other nutritional factors damage the skin. Alcohol consumption is one such factor; in one investigation, those persons who were in the highest quintile (fifth) of alcohol consumption were shown to have a 65% increased risk of melanoma.  Another indicated a 250% increased melanoma risk among those who consumed two or more alcoholic drinks per day, and a third demonstrated that those persons who consumed seven or more drinks per week had 64% greater risk of melanoma and a 23% greater risk of non-melanoma skin cancer when compared to non-drinkers. There are at least two other negative dietary habits that correlate to increased skin-cancer risk: first, the highest dairy-product consumption has also been shown to correlate to a 2½ times increased in risk of developing a non-melanoma carcinoma (common skin cancer). Secondly, the types of fats we consume are exceptionally important. 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 cancers of all kinds.
Sun exposure is absolutely essential for human health; but to protect yourself against any damage to the skin, eat the foods that were made for humans!
 Komatsu T, Sasaki S, Manabe Y, Hirata T, Sugawara T. Preventive effect of dietary astaxanthin on UVA-induced skin photoaging in hairless mice. PLoS One. 2017 Feb 7;12(2):e0171178.
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Bain C, Green A, Siskind V, Alexander J, Harvey P. Diet and melanoma. An exploratory case-control study. Ann Epidemiol 1993;3:235-38.
Jessica T. Kubo, Michael T. Henderson, Manisha Desai, Jean Wactawski-Wende, Marcia L. Stefanick, Jean Y. Tang. Alcohol consumption and risk of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer in the Women’s Health Initiative. Cancer Causes Control. 2014 Jan;25(1):1-10.
Hughes MC, van der Pols JC, Marks GC, Green AC. 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.