Hallelujah! At least some scientists in Australia are realizing that their sun-avoidance programs, probably the most draconian in the world, are causing health problems, particularly musculoskeletal disorders (bone, joint and muscle problems). According to this article, those maladies cause more disability than any other group of medical conditions and cost the Australian economy $9.15 billion per year.
The scientists are suggesting an increase in sun exposure; unfortunately, the amount of exposure they suggest is woefully inadequate to produce optimal health, but at least it is a step in the right direction. The scientists also state that ultraviolet radiation is the main risk factor for skin cancer. If they are talking about malignant melanoma, they are dead wrong. However, we must compliment them for suggesting regular sun exposure, a habit that could save millions of lives yearly.
Sunlight exposure has been shown to correlate to a reduced risk of numerous cancers, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but results with Hodgkin’s lymphoma (HL) are mixed. The most recent research shows that there is an inverse correlation between HL and the highest vs. lowest lifetime, childhood and adulthood experience with the following three factors: sunlight exposure, sun-lamp exposure, and sunburn.  The pooled analysis showed an odds ratio of .56, or in other words, a 44% reduced risk of contracting the disease.
Two items particularly stand out in this research: (1) Sun-lamp use correlated to a reduced risk of the disease—a positive result for the much maligned tanning industry—and (2) sunburn also correlated to a reduced risk. Of course, no one would recommend sun-burning; it simply serves a surrogate measurement for a high degree of sunlight exposure. Sunlight exposure can easily be used in high quantities—without burning—by moving out of the sun when the skin begins to redden and then coming back later after the skin has adjusted and started to tan.
This research once again points out the efficacy of sunlight in reducing cancer. Don’t expect the American Academy of Dermatology to mention this vital information in their next newsletter!
 Monnereau A, Glaser SL, Schupp CW, Ekström Smedby K, de Sanjosé S, et al. Exposure to UV radiation and risk of Hodgkin lymphoma: a pooled analysis. Blood 2013;122(20):3492-9
From Science Daily, research is reported on the ability of sunlight exposure to effectively lower blood pressure.[i] The research, reported earlier by Dr. Richard Weller, is not really new, but it is good to see that it is receiving more press. Even more important is the fact that Dr. Weller is a dermatologist. The study was conducted by exposing the skin of 24 healthy volunteers to ultraviolet light from tanning lamps for two sessions of 20 minutes each. In one session, they were exposed to both ultraviolet A (UVA) and the heat from the lamps; in another, the UVA rays were blocked so that only the heat was applied. Blood pressure was lowered by UVA exposure, but not by heat alone.
It has been known for some time that nitric oxide (NO) is produced by the skin in response to sunlight. NO is a potent vasodilator that relaxes the vessels and allows blood pressure to drop. Therefore, the sunlight, or tanning lamps, both of which emit UBA, become useful tools for lowering blood pressure.
It is important to note that these results were achieved with no increase in vitamin D levels. Therefore, sunlight stands on its own in reducing blood pressure. This is not to negate the positive influence of vitamin D; it is a critical factor in reducing the risk of myriad diseases. My ongoing searches of the medical and scientific literature, however, have persuaded me that most studies that assess the influence of sunlight alone are more impressive in preventing disease than those that assess only vitamin D blood levels or supplementation.
Dr. Feelisch, one of the investigators, stated the following: “These results are significant to the ongoing debate about potential health benefits of sunlight and the role of Vitamin D in this process. It may be an opportune time to reassess the risks and benefits of sunlight for human health and to take a fresh look at current public health advice. Avoiding excess sunlight exposure is critical to prevent skin cancer, but not being exposed to it at all, out of fear or as a result of a certain lifestyle, could increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.”
More on this subject will follow. In the meantime, allow yourself safe, non-burning exposure to the sun.
[i] University of Southampton (2014, January 17). Here comes the sun to lower your blood pressure. Science Daily. Retrieved January 18, 2014, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2014/01/140117090139.htm.
A recent research paper from the Netherlands states that a shift from daily exposure to the sun to an intermittent exposure has correlated to an increase in skin cancer, and it suggests that moderate, frequent exposure is the best advice for people living in that country. The researchers also state that frequent exposure is a protective factor against colorectal, cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, as well as multiple sclerosis and metabolic syndrome.
Interestingly, the paper mentions that the circadian rhythm is affected by light. It postulates that too low levels of light in the daytime and too high levels of light in the evening and at night can weaken and disrupt that rhythm, which could be a risk factor for some types of cancer and for metabolic syndrome. Such ideas have been studied previously, and have indicated that disruption of the circadian rhythm due to night-shift work may lead to increased breast-and/or-colorectal cancer risk in women. 
Whatever the reason, which could also be related to vitamin D production among those who are regularly exposed to sunlight, the evidence for the health benefits of safe sunlight becomes clearer by the day. I opine that millions of lives could be saved yearly by regular, non-burning sun exposure for the entire population.
 van der Rhee HJ, Coomans CP, van de Velde P, Coebergh JW, de Vries E. [Illness, health and sunlight]. Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd 2013;157(46)
 Davis S, Mirick DK. Circadian disruption, shift work and the risk of cancer: a summary of the evidence and studies in Seattle. Cancer Causes Control 2006;17:539-45.
 Reparto di Chirurgia Generale A/D, Policlinico Sant’Andrea, Sapienza Università di Roma. [Night work as a possible risk factor for breast cancer in nurses. Correlation between the onset of tumors and alterations in blood melatonin levels]. Prof Inferm. 2007;60:89-93.
In her latest publication, she and her colleagues show that holidays in sunny areas were significantly correlated to thinner melanomas, meaning that the cancers were less likely to progress and spread. There was a dose-response protection against thicker melanomas; in other words, the greater the number of weeks of sunny holidays, the greater less the risk of thicker melanomas. This correlation existed only for women. The good news, however, is that for both sexes,recurrence of excised melanomas was reduced an average of 70% in those who spent the greatest number of days in the sunlight.
I and many others have said for years that not only does sunlight not cause melanoma, regular non-burning sunlight is protective against contracting melanoma. This new research corroborates that fact.
A similar study on melanoma thickness and the risk of relapse was done in 2009 by Julia Newton-Bishop and colleagues. In that research, it was shown that subjects with higher vitamin D levels had thinner melanomas and a greater survival prognosis. Nevertheless, the results were not nearly as impressive as the study by Gandini, et al. Sunlight exposure per se appears to be superior to vitamin D levels per se in protecting against melanoma.
Sunlight exposure is the best and most natural way to produce large quantities of vitamin D in the human body, and we are learning that sunlight produces many health benefits beyond vitamin D production. This present research is another step forward in bringing sunlight back to its rightful position as mankind’s best friend.
 Gandini, S, et al. Meta-analysis of risk factors for cutaneous melanoma: I-3. European Journal of Cancer 2005;41:28–44.
 Gandini S, De Vries E, Tosti G, Botteri E, Spadola G, et al. Sunny Holidays before and after Melanoma Diagnosis Are Respectively Associated with Lower Breslow Thickness and Lower Relapse Rates in Italy. PLoS One 2013;8:e78820.
 Newton-Bishop JA, Beswick S, Randerson-Moor J, Chang YM, Affleck P, et al. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 levels are associated with breslow thickness at presentation and survival from melanoma. J Clin Oncol 2009;27:5439-44.
By: Marc Sorenson, Sunlight Institute–
New research from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Corroborates what almost every human being knows: Sunshine brightens the mood. Twenty people with depressive symptoms were split into two groups: one group was asked to spend more time in the sunlight, and another group was asked to see a doctor. The experiment lasted for seven weeks and showed that those who spent more time in the sunlight had fewer symptoms of depression.
The authors of this research suggested that vitamin D status accounted for the differences in the two groups, but I personally believe that it is more likely that the true mechanism was the influence of sunlight exposure in producing endorphins and serotonin. We who live in more northern climes have all experienced immediate mood elevation on entering the sunlight after spending several days or months in cloudy winter weather. Vitamin D is not produced in winter in high-latitude countries, so winter sunshine must be the factor that makes the difference. Also, we cannot raise vitamin D levels fast enough to make that kind of immediate difference in mood. Those in the UAE whose moods improved had previously created their own “winter” by avoiding sunlight, and it is likely that the mood improvements were made not by vitamin D but by the aforementioned mood-enhancing changes. Nevertheless, the article makes some good points and is worth reading.
By: Marc Sorenson, Sunlight Institute–
Health Benefits of Sunlight Outweigh Risks of Overexposure: New Study
MAY 8 — A British dermatologist — armed with a new study showing how UV from the sun and sunlamps triggers the natural production of nitric oxide in the skin to reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of heart disease — is challenging the dermatology industry worldwide to step back and re-think its position on UV exposure.
Edinburgh University Dermatologist Dr. Richard Weller will present findings from his new study Friday at the International Investigative Dermatology conference in Edinburgh, one of the world’s largest dermatology conventions.
“We suspect that the benefits to heart health of sunlight will outweigh the risk of skin cancer. The work we have done provides a mechanism that might account for this, and also explains why dietary vitamin D supplements alone will not be able to compensate for lack of sunlight,” Weller said in a press statement this week. “If this confirms that sunlight reduces the death rate from all causes, we will need to reconsider our advice on sun exposure.”
Weller’s study, a randomized controlled trial considered the strongest evidence in science, used a sunlamp to demonstrate that UV exposure triggers nitric oxide production in the skin which lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart disease, which kills 60-100 times more people than skin cancer.
There are no randomized controlled trials connecting sun exposure to skin cancer. Dermatology’s blanket condemnation of sun is based on survey studies and inferences that, properly analyzed, target sunburn but not regular UV as a potential risk factor for skin cancer.
“It’s time to revisit how dermatology groups have mischaracterized skin cancer’s complex relationship to UV while denying that there are benefits of sunlight,” said Dr. Marc Sorenson, founder of the Sunlight Institute. “Dr. Weller’s new study should put this center-stage.”
According to Medical News Today, “This new study is important because until now it was thought that sunlight’s only benefit to human health from sunlight was production of vitamin D, which rises after exposure to the sun. Previous studies have found that while increased vitamin D levels link to lower cardiovascular disease, oral supplements do not have an effect on this. ”
The Sunlight Institute believes overzealous sun avoidance is the biggest public health mistake of our time. For more information visit www.SunlightInstitute.org.
Click here to visit Medical News Today’s article on the Weller study.
By: Marc Sorenson, Sunlight Institute–
Hysterectomy, or the removal of the uterus, is an extremely common surgery among women in the United States, second only to childbirth by cesarean-section.[i]There are many experts such as Dr. Stanley West who believe that up to 90% of hysterectomies are unnecessary, since they are usually done in response to the presence of uterine fibroids, which are not cancerous.[ii]
Nevertheless, if uterine fibroids lead to hysterectomies, anything that would prevent fibroids from forming would lead to a dramatic decrease in these procedures.
According to one recent research report, women who spent at least an hour outdoors daily, had a 40% reduced risk of uterine fibroids.[iii] Dr. Donna Baird the leader of the research team, stated, “It would be wonderful if something as simple and inexpensive as getting some natural sunshine on their skin each day could help women reduce their chance of getting fibroids.”
Once again, we see the power of sunlight. It reduces the risk not only of a benign fibroid, but also the risk of unnecessary surgery. Perhaps we should also mention the reduction in health-care costs.
Since sunlight is free, it seems irrefutable that a daily dose of sun would be far superior to an expensive and unnecessary surgery. What do you think?
By: Marc Sorenson, Sunlight Institute–
Vitamin D has a multitude of health benefits, and the only natural way to obtain vitamin D is from sunlight exposure, which causes the skin to produce vitamin D3. The D3 is then is converted to a potent hormone that “turns on” more than 1,000 genes in the genetic engine. As I studied the scientific literature regarding vitamin D and sunlight, I noticed, however, that the strongest and most consistent health benefits were often related more closely to sunlight exposure per se, than to vitamin D supplementation or vitamin D blood levels. Some of my earliest observations regarded prostate cancer and osteoporosis, where vitamin D supplementation and high blood levels of vitamin D seemed generally effective, but exposure to sunlight was profoundly effective.
I also noted that vitamin D supplementation seemed to decrease osteoporotic fractures, but sunlight exposure could actually reverse the disease. (See my previous post). And of course, we know that sunlight or other ultraviolet light exposure dramatically enhances mood.
One of the latest studies to corroborate my observations was published in the European Journal of Cancer in December, 2012, and was entitled, is prevention of cancer by sun exposure more than just the effect of vitamin D? A systematic review of epidemiological studies.[i] In their review, the authors noted that regular sunlight exposure correlated to a reduced risk of colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). However, vitamin D levels correlated to a reduced risk of colorectal, and to a lesser extent, breast cancer, but were not correlated to a significant risk reduction in prostate cancer and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The authors concluded with this statement: “Particularly in prostate cancer and NHL, other sunlight-potentiated and vitamin D-independent pathways, such as modulation of the immune system and the circadian rhythm, and the degradation of folic acid, might play a role in reduced cancer risk as well.”
The authors could have also mentioned the effect of sunlight on vasodilation, mediated by the production of nitric oxide (produced by the skin after sunlight exposure). They could also have discussed the influence of sunlight on production of serotonin and endorphins. These effects have nothing to do with vitamin D, and future research will determine whether these “beyond-vitamin D” effects also reduce the risk of various cancers.
Vitamin D is an exceptionally important product of sunlight, but it is hardly the only product. I predict that a whole new field of research on other photoproducts of sunlight exposure will soon emerge and provide impressive new knowledge regarding the life-and-health giving benefits of our most precious friend, the sun.
[i] van der Rhee H, Coebergh JW, de Vries E. Is prevention of cancer by sun exposure more than just the effect of vitamin D? A systematic review of epidemiological studies. Eur J Cancer. 2012 Dec 10. pii: S0959-8049(12)00885-4. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2012.11.001. [Epub ahead of print] <?xml:namespace prefix = o />