Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Sunlight-avoidance insanity is causing severe vitamin D deficiency. Will you die from sunlight deprivation?

Due to fear of melanoma, a deadly disease that has been erroneously attributed to sunlight exposure, the people are leaving the sunlight and becoming more like cave dwellers. For those of you who believe in evolution, can you imagine that after millions of years under the sun, human beings have been frightened away from their heritage?

There is an inconvenient truth about melanoma that the Powers of Darkness (those who would take away our sunlight) would prefer you not know: people who work regularly outdoors have a lower risk of melanoma than those who work indoors.

Godar, et al.[1] present evidence that outdoor workers, while receiving 3-9 times the UVR exposure as indoor workers,[2] [3] have had no increase in melanoma since before 1940, whereas melanoma incidence in indoor workers has increased steadily and exponentially. Other research corroborates the idea that outdoor workers have fewer melanomas than indoor workers.[4] Vagero, et al.[5] showed that melanomas were more common among indoor office workers and other indoor workers than among outdoor workers, and Kennedy, et al.[6] showed that a lifetime of sunlight exposure correlated to a reduced risk of melanoma. Garland, et al.[7] showed that those who worked indoors had a 50% greater risk of melanoma than those who worked both indoors and outdoors, and Kaskel, et al.[8] demonstrated that children who engage in outdoor activities are less likely to develop melanoma than those who do not. Many other papers in the scientific literature show that both incidence and death rate from melanoma are reduced with increasing exposure to sunlight.[9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19]

This is not to say that sunburn does not contribute to melanoma, but it certainly shows that habitual, non-burning sun exposure correlates to a reduced risk of this deadly disease. In addition, there are approximately 105 additional diseases that are reduced among those who have higher sunlight exposure and therefore have higher levels of vitamin D (see my book for a discussion on each disease). We cannot live without vitamin D, which is not a vitamin at all, but in its most active form is a potent steroid hormone that controls at least 1,000 genes.[20] It is also important to understand that 90% of all vitamin D is produced in the skin by the action of sunlight on skin.[21]

However, blood levels of this important hormone are dropping precipitously in the American population, with a near doubling of the prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency that existed 10 years ago, and with 90% of Blacks, Hispanics and Asians, and 75% of the white population now suffering from the disorder.[22]

So what does this mean to the health of US citizens? I have calculated in a manuscript currently in preparation, that the diseases that correlate to sunlight deprivation/vitamin D deficiency kill approximately 1.42 million people per year in the US. Diseases that correlate to sunlight exposure kill approximately 1,500 people per year. That produces a ratio of about 948:1. I will continue with my mid-day sunbathing, thank you!

Remember that no one is advising the injudicious use of sunlight; baking in the sun for hours is neither necessary nor desirable, but regular sunlight exposure is a sine qua non for vibrant health. To say that we should avoid sunlight is like saying we should avoid water. Water correlates to drowning, but no one asks us to avoid water; if we did the results would be catastrophic, as are the results of vitamin D deficiency due to sunlight deprivation.

Of course, there are some extremely rare conditions that may preclude sunlight exposure. Check with your (enlightened) physician.

Is it time to return to reasonable, habitual, non-burning sunlight exposure? It could save your life!

[1] Godar DE, Landry RJ, Lucas AD. Increased UVA exposures and decreased cutaneous Vitamin D3 levels may be responsible for the increasing incidence of melanoma. Med hypothesis (2009), doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2008.09.056
[2] Godar D. UV doses worldwide. Photochem Photobiol 2005;81:736–49.
[3] Thieden E, Philipsen PA, Sandby-Møller J, Wulf HC. UV radiation exposure related to age, sex, occupation, and sun behavior based on time-stamped personal dosimeter readings. Arch Dermatol 2004;140:197–203.
[4] Lee J. Melanoma and exposure to sunlight. Epidemiol Rev 1982;4:110–36.
[5] Vågero D, Ringbäck G, Kiviranta H. Melanoma and other tumors of the skin among office, other indoor and outdoor workers in Sweden 1961–1979 Brit J Cancer 1986;53:507–12.
[6] Kennedy C, Bajdik CD, Willemze R, De Gruijl FR, Bouwes Bavinck JN; Leiden Skin Cancer Study. The influence of painful sunburns and lifetime sun exposure on the risk of actinic keratoses, seborrheic warts, melanocytic nevi, atypical nevi, and skin cancer. Invest Dermatol 2003;120:1087–93.
[7] Garland FC, White MR, Garland CF, Shaw E, Gorham ED. Occupational sunlight exposure and melanoma in the USA Navy. Arch Environ Health 1990; 45:261-67.
[8] Kaskel P, Sander S, Kron M, Kind P, Peter RU, Krähn G. Outdoor activities in childhood: a protective factor for cutaneous melanoma? Results of a case-control study in 271 matched pairs. Br J Dermatol 2001;145:602-09.
[9] Garsaud P, Boisseau-Garsaud AM, Ossondo M, Azaloux H, Escanmant P, Le Mab G. Epidemiology of cutaneous melanoma in the French West Indies (Martinique). Am J Epidemiol 1998;147:66-8.
[10] Le Marchand l, Saltzman S, Hankin JH, Wilkens LR, Franke SJM, Kolonel N. Sun exposure, diet and melanoma in Hawaii Caucasians. Am J Epidemiol 2006;164:232-45.
[11] Armstong K, Kricker A. The epidemiology of UV induced skin cancer. J Photochem Biol 2001;63:8-18
[12] Crombie IK. Distribution of malignant melanoma on the body surface. Br J Cancer 1981;43:842-9.
[13] Crombie IK. Variation of melanoma incidence with latitude in North America and Europe. Br J Cancer 1979;40:774-81.
[14]Weinstock MA, Colditz,BA, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ. Bronstein, BR, Speizer FE. Nonfamilial cutaneous melanoma incidence in women associated with sun exposure before 20 years of age. Pediatrics 1989;84:199-204.
[15] Tucker MA, Goldstein AM. Melanoma etiology: where are we? Oncogene 20f03;22:3042-52.
[16] Berwick M, Armstrong BK, Ben-Porat L, Fine J, Kricker A, Eberle C. Sun exposure and mortality from melanoma. J Nat Cancer Inst 2005;97:95-199.
[17] Veierød MB, Weiderpass E, Thörn M, Hansson J, Lund E, Armstrong B. A prospective study of pigmentation, sun exposure, and risk of cutaneous malignant melanoma in women. J Natl Cancer Inst 2003;95:1530-8.
[18] Oliveria SA, Saraiya M, Geller AC, Heneghan MK, Jorgensen C. Sun exposure and risk of melanoma. Arch Dis Child 2006;91:131-8.
[19] Elwood JM, Gallagher RP, Hill GB, Pearson JCG. Cutaneous melanoma in relation to intermittent and constant sun exposure—the western Canada melanoma study. Int J Cancer 2006;35:427-33
[20] Luz E. Tavera-Mendoza and John H. White. Cell Defenses and the Sunshine Vitamin. Scientific American 2007;November, p.42.
[21] Reichrath J. The challenge resulting from positive and negative effects of sunlight: how much solar UV exposure is appropriate to balance between risks of vitamin D deficiency and skin cancer? Prog Biophys Mol Biol 2006;92(1):9-16.
[22] Adams, J and Hewison, M. Update in Vitamin D. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2010;95: 471–478.

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