This article is one of several now indicating that children develop nearsightedness when they do not play outdoors. What could be more natural than safely participating in sunny activities? Could it save the sight of our children?
This article is one of several now indicating that children develop nearsightedness when they do not play outdoors. What could be more natural than safely participating in sunny activities? Could it save the sight of our children?
Recent research from England suggests that the amount of sunlight available to your pregnant mother in the month of your birth may have a profound influence on the direction of your life. The message here is to optimize the vitamin D blood levels during pregnancy.
There are so many positive aspects of the sun: It warms our planet; it is the source of all life on earth; it brightens our moods and it helps us to maintain health. As this article demonstrates, it is the essence of our existence.
Boro Petric makes that case that we shouldn’t “throw the baby out with the bath water” while worrying about skin cancer. I agree. Excessive baking in the sunlight, or burning in the sun, can be damaging. However, without the vitamin D and other metabolites received from sunlight, we can crumble and die form numerous diseases.
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.
July 25, 2011
Not only is having a green thumb a great way to stay healthier and happier, but new research shows it can actually protect you from cancer.
Noted cancer treatment and research center M.D. Anderson, at the University of Texas, found in a study that time spent gardening once or twice a week can reduce the risk of cancer by 50 percent in lifelong nonsmokers. Moreover, researchers found, the same level of gardening activity by former smokers can reduce cancer risk by as much as 40 percent.
And while researchers said they weren’t exactly sure if gardening reduced the incidence of cancer more than other physical activities, they did find that it was the most commonly shared trait among the study’s participants.
The cancer-prevention benefits of gardening are also echoed by the American Institute of Cancer Research, which said that gardening is a physical activity that not only helps prevent cancer but also contributes to overall health and endurance.
People who garden tend to eat better food – food that is untainted by chemicals and poisons and food that is much tastier than what you’re used to buying in a supermarket.
Along those lines, gardening means exposure to the sun and its known vitamin D-supplying qualities that have been linked to the prevention of some cancers and a wide variety of other illnesses and diseases.
In fact, along the lines of exposure to the sun, scientists now believe that exposure can actually help prevent skin cancer because sunlight exposure helps in the body’s manufacture of vitamin D, a cancer-stunting agent in its own right.
“Melanoma (skin cancer) patients tend to avoid the sun as sunburn is known to increase the risk of melanoma. We use sunshine to make vitamin D in the skin, so melanoma patients’ levels of vitamin D may be especially low,” said Prof. Julia Newton Bishop of the Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine, and lead author of a recent study which found that higher levels of vitamin D were linked with better skin cancer survival odds.
Another reason why gardening may contain some anti-cancer, better health qualities, is because contact with soil, and the nutrients it supplies our garden-grown fruits and vegetables, tends to be good for us as well.
Finally, home-grown vegetables also contain anti-cancer nutrients and flavonols that can decrease certain cancers, like pancreatic cancer.
You may have thought you didn’t have a thumb that was green enough to be able to grow your own food, but based on continuing research that verifies the healthy, cancer-busting qualities of such a wonderful, self-fulfilling activity, doesn’t learning how sound like a fantastic opportunity to stay healthy?
By Bob Berman–
Vitamin D, produced when skin is exposed to light, is essential for our bodies. Unfortunately, modern lifestyles have minimized our time we spend under the sun. The Sun’s Heartbeat explains why a tan isn’t as bad as previously thought.
The first scenes in one Sun-tragedy unfolded long before there were written records of any kind. Spurred by events we can only guess at, a human exodus began 50,000 to 70,000 years ago, when our ancestors migrated away from the tropics and the equatorial region’s strong sunlight. Immediately, people developed vitamin D deficiencies.
Our bodies make vitamin D when our skin is struck by the Sun’s ultraviolet rays. Because UV intensity declines dramatically with lower Sun angles, people in temperate regions, and especially those in even higher latitudes, receive as little as 10 percent of the UV experienced by those near the equator. As our ancestors migrating north developed vitamin D deficiencies, the results were swift and brutal. They were removed from the breeding pool by a cruel Darwinian process: the fetus inside a woman with rickets (a disease resulting from low vitamin D) is unable to emerge from her body, and both die in childbirth.
Within just a few thousand years, natural selection had turned some people’s skin white, and they were now able to manufacture ample vitamin D even from the reduced Sun intensity of the higher latitudes. (Dark skin color, called melanin, is a sunblock, needed because naked bodies near the equator can suffer from too much ultraviolet exposure.) In North America and northern Europe, the climate is sufficiently warm that their skin was almost fully exposed for more than half the year, and their bodies stored vitamin D in the muscle and fat. A new balance had been restored.
But starting a century ago, everything changed. First, the United States and Europe went from a mostly outdoors agrarian society to a mostly indoors manufacturing one. Then people started driving around in vehicles surrounded by windows. Glass prevents any vitamin D production because it blocks the Sun’s UV. When air-conditioning became widely available starting in the late 1950s and then got cheaper in the 1970s, people stopped keeping their windows open. Fixed- pane units became increasingly popular. The only sunlight that reached us in our homes and workplaces came through UV-stopping glass.
The last straw was sunblock. It did not even exist until thirty years ago. The initial UV- reducing creams, which cut exposure only in half, were marketed in the 1950s to promote tanning, not totally screen out ultraviolet rays. Then, in the 1980s, a new product came on the market: sunblock. With SPF (sun protection factor) numbers such as 30 and 45, sunblock essentially stops the body’s vitamin D production cold. At the same time, people were advised to cover themselves with these lotions throughout the summer months. Even the medical establishment urged hiding from the Sun as a way to counter skin cancer.
The metamorphosis was complete: we had become like the Morlocks in H. G. Wells’s book The Time Machine, shielded almost totally from sunlight’s UV.
Enter modern vitamin D researchers such as John Cannell, MD, executive director of the Vitamin D Council, a nonprofit educational corporation that believes that “many humans are needlessly suffering and dying from Vitamin D Deficiency.” Cannell is no ordinary medical doctor. He’s no ordinary researcher either. He is a proselytizer, the first in the theater to shout “Fire!” when the smoke appears, while there’s still time to get out. And these days, he’s very, very passionate. He believes that human beings have unwittingly transformed themselves into something uniquely and self- destructively unnatural.
“We are the first society of cave people,” he lamented to me in 2010. “In the development process of creating the skin, nature never dreamed that we’d deliberately avoid the Sun so thoroughly.”
What Cannell and a growing legion of researchers are decrying are the past three decades of newspaper and TV scare stories that have made the public afraid of the Sun. The consequence, they believe, is that our blood’s natural vitamin D levels are just a tiny fraction of what nature intended. And this is producing an avalanche of horrible consequences that include vastly increased rates of cancer.
That vitamin D is super-important is no longer in doubt. It has become the new needed supplement, recommended increasingly by family doctors and the popular media alike. The March 2010 Reader’s Digest calls vitamins in general “a scam” and urges people to take no daily supplements whatsoever – with the single exception of 1,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D3, the form most recommended as a supplement.
This sudden interest has been sparked by a spate of studies strongly indicating that vitamin D is the most powerful anticancer agent ever known. Robert Heaney, MD, of Creighton University, a vitamin D researcher, points to thirty- two randomized trials, the majority of which were strongly positive. For example, in a big study of women whose average age was sixty-two, subjects who were given a large daily vitamin D supplement enjoyed a whopping 60 percent reduction in all kinds of cancers after just four years of treatment compared to a control group.
The skeptical might well wonder how, when cancer typically takes decades to develop, such a huge drop can be detected after just a few years. Heaney believes it’s because vitamin D prevents tiny predetectable tumors from growing or spreading. “That’s the kind of cancer I’d want to have – one that never grows,” he told me in June 2010.
The Canadian Cancer Society raised its vitamin D intake recommendations to 1,000 IU daily in 2009. But Cannell, Heaney, and others think that even this is still way too low.
“I went to a conference and asked all the researchers what they themselves take daily and give to their families,” Heaney said. “The average was 5,500 IU daily. There is certainly no danger in doing this, since toxicity cannot arise in under 30,000 IU a day.”
Why is this vitamin D craze happening now? It sounds suspiciously familiar – like the antioxidant craze of the 1990s, when everyone was gobbling vitamin E to guard against “free radicals.” Or the Linus Pauling– led vitamin C frenzy of the 1970s. Recent studies have shown that all those vitamins have no effect on mortality whatsoever. Indeed, a multivitamin a day now seems to be no better for your health than gobbling a daily Hostess Twinkie. Perhaps our bodies were not designed to get flooded with vitamins. Or maybe the couple of dozen known minerals and vitamins are only the tip of the health iceberg, and what’s important are hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of trace substances of which we are not yet even aware.
Yet it is here, in a discussion of the natural environment in which our bodies were fashioned, that vitamin D makes so much sense. After all, our bodies create it naturally out of the Sun’s ultraviolet rays.
Spending just ten minutes in strong sunlight – the kind you get from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM between April and August – will allow your body to make as much vitamin D as you would get from drinking two hundred glasses of milk. This is astonishing. Asks John Cannell rhetorically, “Why does nature do this so quickly? Nature normally doesn’t do this kind of thing.”
The implied answer, of course, is that we were designed to have a high and steady level of this vitamin in our bodies. Yet as more and more people are tested, researchers are finding serious vitamin D deficiencies in virtually all of the population of the United States, Canada, and northern Europe. The reason? According to Cannell and the other doctors on the Vitamin D Council, we have been hiding from the Sun for decades.
The results may be even worse than we realize. Many researchers now fear that the explosive increase in autism is a result of pregnant mothers having close to no vitamin D in their bodies and then young babies and infants being similarly shielded from the Sun. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that virtually no infants are getting enough vitamin D. The inadequacy figures, even using the CDC’s pre-2011 lower recommendations of what they thought the body should have, was that 90 percent of infants are deficient.
According to Cannell, the highest autism rates occur in areas that have the most clouds and rain, and hence the lowest blood levels of vitamin D. A Swedish study has strongly linked sunlight deprivation with autism. Moreover, blacks, whose vitamin D levels are half those found in whites living at the same latitudes, have twice the autism rates. Conversely, autism is virtually unknown in places such as sunny Somalia, where most people still spend most of their time outdoors. Yet another piece of anecdotal evidence is that autism is one of the very few afflictions that occur at higher rates among the wealthier and more educated – exactly the people most likely to be diligent about sunscreen and more inclined to keep their children indoors.
As we saw in assessing links between earthly events and sunspot fluctuations, it’s perilous to assign connections too quickly, and autism in particular is a can of worms. Nonetheless, these early threads should set off alarms: it might be wise for pregnant women and mothers of small children to immediately start exposing themselves and their kids to more sunlight.
When Cannell was in medical school in 1973, he was taught that human breast milk contains little or no vitamin D. “This didn’t make sense,” he said during a phone conversation with me in 2011. “Why would nature ever deprive a nursing infant of this vital substance?” Then it came to him: “When pregnant women start taking 5,000 international units of vitamin D daily, their milk soon contains enough vitamin D for a breast-feeding baby. So there’s the key to how much a woman should naturally be getting every day.”
In contrast to all this, and to the great annoyance of physicians and researchers on the Vitamin D Council, the FDA continued to advise only 400 IU of D3 daily as of early 2011. The agency officially regards most vitamin D studies as “incomplete” or “contradictory” and clearly has taken a cautious, go-slow approach.
In November 2010, the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine issued its first new recommendations about the vitamin since 1997, and many people were disappointed. The institute did boost its recommended daily amounts to 400 IU for infants, 600 IU for most adults, and 800 IU for those over age seventy. It also said there was no harm in taking up to 10,000 IU daily, although it conservatively adopted 4,000 IU as the official recommended upper limit.
According to Cannell, the new recommendations are still “irrelevant dosages.” Michael Holick, MD, of Boston University, another vitamin researcher, agreed, saying that he personally takes 3,000 IU daily.
Cannell told me that the National Academy of Sciences report was a “scandal” and that four physicians had disgustedly resigned from the committee that put out the paper. “Commonsense aspects are totally lacking,” he said. “For example, they urge infants to get 400 IU daily, but adults just 600 IU. Yet this vitamin is distributed in muscle and fat. The more you weigh, the more you should be getting. It doesn’t make sense.”
“Listen,” he added, “everyone knows that there is an explosion of childhood cases of autism, asthma, and autoimmune disease. It all began when we took our children out of the Sun. Starting twenty-five years ago, a perfect storm of three events has changed how much sunlight children get. First came the scare of childhood sexual predators in the early eighties, then the fear of skin cancer, and finally the Nintendo and video game craze. Nowadays, kids do not play outdoors. Playgrounds are empty. You’re a bad mother if you let your child run around. And it’s almost a social services offense if your kid gets a sunburn. Never before have children’s brains had to develop in the absence of vitamin D.”
Since this is not a medical book, I can only pass on the recommendations of those in the forefront of vitamin D research. Their best advice is to go in the Sun regularly without burning. Wear as little clothing as you can. You know how much Sun you can han-dle without turning red. Unless you have a very light complexion and blond or red hair, you should be able to expose yourself safely to ten to twenty minutes of strong sunlight at a time. Lie out in the Sun in shorts for five to ten minutes on each side. The key to UV intensity is Sun height. If your shadow is shorter than you are, your body will produce a good amount of vitamin D.
After experiencing twenty minutes of unprotected midday Sun from May to July, or a full hour or more during March, early April, and late August through October, you can certainly use sunblock. The experts say to buy the kind whose active ingredient is either zinc or titanium oxide. Most other kinds will be absorbed by the skin, then enter the bloodstream and circulate. “You might as well drink the stuff,” Cannell says disdainfully.
During the low-Sun winter months, you need to spend much more time sunbathing and probably take a vitamin D supplement. The experts are currently urging 2,000 to 3,000 IU daily.
Why not skip the Sun altogether and just pop the pills year- round? Some doctors, including those responsible for the 2010 National Academy of Sciences report, suggest doing exactly that. They figure that you can have it all – nice, high vitamin D serum levels plus no UV exposure, with its skin cancer risk. But others believe that’s a bad idea. “Some of my colleagues think D3 supplements are enough,” Cannell says. “But that supposes we know everything. I suspect that we do not know everything. Natural sunlight has to be the preferred route whenever possible.”
Everyone should use solar power wisely and not go totally bonkers. There’s no need to fry. But whatever extra skin cancer risk we might assume certainly seems to me to be a reasonable price to pay, considering the benefits. It now appears that adequate sunlight- mediated vitamin D might prevent as many as 150,000 cancer deaths a year in the United States alone and also reduce infections, bone problems, and perhaps, though more science is needed, even autism and asthma rates. Of course, on the other side of the balance beam, melanoma causes 8,500 US deaths a year. Every activity from bicycle riding to barroom brawling involves some balancing of risks, and the decision of what trade- offs to make is, of course, yours alone.
Tomorrow is a new day. As the Sun rises, its orange beams will cast magical rays in the morning mist. Is the Sun our enemy or our friend? Will it take our life or save it?
Did you know that by getting adequate exposure to sunshine health levels actually increase? It’s true. Of course, you wouldn’t learn this truth by reading most news reports. Media reports have practically vilified sunlight exposure. It is true that excessive exposure to sunlight, just like excessive levels of just about anything, is bad for your health.
We cannot afford to throw out the baby with the bathwater when it comes to gleaning the health benefits of proper exposure to sunlight. Our bodies need to soak up sunshine to be truly healthy. In fact, there are vital processes that are slowed or stopped altogether when people avoid going out into the sunshine.
How Does Sunshine Improve Health?
The human body needs to interact with sunshine in order to process and properly utilize Vitamin D. Vitamin D has many benefits, but one of the most important is its role in the mineralization and strengthening of bones. Without regular exposure to sunlight this essential vitamin will be unavailable to your body. Brittle bone diseases and serious bone injuries happen when bones lack strength.
It’s not just bones that benefit from a regular regiment of sunshine exposure. Routine exposure to sunshine also helps your body to maintain healthy nerves, blood rich in iron and more powerful muscles.
In cultures where the people are not afraid of regular exposures to sunshine, health levels seem to increase. People who live in North America and Europe suffer the most from lack of exposure to the sun. Millions of people in these countries suffer from a variety of health issues that could be averted altogether by taking time for regular sun exposure to the skin.
Experts estimate that as little as 10 to 15 minutes in the sun each day can dramatically reduce many serious health issues. There simply aren’t many things that can have such a dramatic impact on your health that are so simple to do. Not only is it easy to get regular sunlight exposure, it’s also free. Imagine that; something you can do every day to live a healthier life, that won’t cost you a penny.
What’s the Fuss about Skin Cancer?
In order for more people to take advantage of the power of sunshine health benefits, reeducation about sunlight exposure seems to be necessary. As was previously mentioned, the epidemic of skin cancer has caused a backlash against spending any time at all in the sun. Of course, skin cancer is a very serious condition, but it is usually caused by failing to protect the skin and inordinate amounts of time spent on tanning and other outdoor activities. True health is all about balance. If you eat too much health problems will occur. In a similar manner, spending huge chunks of your time tanning in the sunlight will also cause significant health problems, like skin cancer.
Simply put, your body will never be in a state of true health without regular time spent in the sunlight. Sunshine health benefits are available to everyone under the sun. This huge asset is free and people need to know just how important it is for living a healthier life.
By Dr. David Jockers–
Before you lather up with sunscreen for a long day outside you should look at what is actually in the bottle. These lotions contain chemical mixtures that have been proven to block UVA & UVB radiation exposure and prevent sunburn. These chemical cocktails are now linked to serious health consequences including an increased risk of cancer. Natural strategies allow us to optimize sun exposure without chemical toxins and to boost our health.
The sun provides our body with an essential stress through its UV radiation. This UV radiation stress signals a molecule on the skin (7-dehydrocholesterol) to convert to the active form of Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) in the body. Vitamin D3 synthesis depends upon UVB radiation, which effectively penetrates only the epidermal (outer) layers of the skin.
Vitamin D deficiency is a current epidemic in our society today affecting 90% of our world`s population. According to Vitamin D expert Michael Holick, `We estimate that vitamin D deficiency is the most common medical condition in the world.` It is clear that most people are not getting enough healthy sun exposure. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to increased risk of virtually every form of cancer including skin cancer, cardiovascular disease and immune insufficiencies.
Melanoma is a deadly form of skin cancer that has always been associated with excessive sun exposure. However, many recent studies have shown that individuals wearing sunscreen had a higher likelihood of getting melanoma. Additionally, melanoma patients with increased levels of sun exposure were less likely to die than other melanoma patients. Patients, who already had melanoma and a lot of sun exposure, were prone to a less aggressive tumor type.
Due to worries over excessive sun exposure many people choose to lather up with sunscreen. In 2007 the FDA admitted that they “are not aware of data demonstrating that sunscreen use alone helps prevent skin cancer.” The International Agency for Research on Cancer recommends clothing, hats and shade as primary barriers to UV radiation. They have written that “sunscreens should not be the first choice for skin cancer prevention and should not be used as the sole agent for protection against the sun.”
Up to 30% of the sunscreens on the market contain a form of Vitamin A that may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions. The industry uses retinyl palmitate in its formulas because it is an anti-oxidant that enhances skin health. Numerous studies have shown that Vitamin A can cause excessive skin growth (hyperplasia) and that sunlight can damage the anti-oxidant and cause it to form harsh free radicals that damage DNA.
Other toxins found in common sunscreens include:
Benzophenones (dixoybenzone, oxybenzone) Cinnamates
PABA esters Salicylates Digalloyl trioleate
Menthyl anthranilate Avobenzone
All of these ingredients are highly toxic to our skin and bodies. They produce rampant amounts of free radicals that create an excess of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a potent carcinogen that causes genetic mutations. These chemicals are highly estrogenic in that they mimic the effects of estrogen within our body and cause hormonal disruptions that increase cancer cell formation.
Natural sun screen protection comes from tropical oils such as coconut, eucalyptus, jojoba, & shea butter. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide when applied appropriately are powerful protectants from the damaging effects of too much sun. It is always advisable to wear hats and other clothing if you know you are going to spend an excessive time in the sun. Apply aloe vera and/or coconut oil on any area that is overexposed to help ease the pain and nourish the skin. Both of these sources support the skin microflora and harmonize the healing process.