Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Another study confirms the sunscreen deception.

It is undeniable that sunscreen use has profoundly increased in the past few decades, and in spite of that increase, the incidence of melanoma (CMM) continues to climb in the US. A new report, actually a clinical review in the Journal or the American Board of Family Practice,[1] comes to the following conclusions:

1. “Despite the availability and promotion of sunscreen for decades, the incidence of CMM continues to increase in the U.S. at a rate of 3% per year.”

2. There currently is little evidence that sunscreens are protective against CMM.

3. A number of studies suggest that the use of sunscreen does not significantly decrease the risk CMM, and may actually increase the risk of both CMM and sunburns.

The author of the report, Dr. Margaret Planta, also notes that the environmental protection Agency (EPA), states that “there is no evidence that sunscreens protect you from malignant melanoma.”[2]

The Melanoma International Foundation has (MIF) has stated, “Melanoma is epidemic: rising faster than any other cancer and projected to affect one person in 50 by 2010, currently it affects 1 in 75. In 1935, only one in 1500 was struck by the disease.” In other words, as sun exposure has dramatically decreased, melanoma has exponentially increased.[3] Quite obviously, the use of sunscreens has been one reason for the decrease in sunlight exposure. Consider this: if UVR exposure is the cause of CMM as stated by the IMF, there should be a concomitant decrease in melanoma as sunscreen use has increased. However, according to Kline & Company, a research group, sales of sunscreens in 1972 were $33 million; in 2008, sales were $650 million.[4] In addition, according to the Fredonia Market Research Group Company, the sales of sunscreens used in cosmetics in 2007 were $130 million.[5] Interestingly, the MIF suggests that we must do a better job of teaching people to avoid the sun. Isn’t there something terribly wrong with that reasoning?

Sunscreen is a big business that is of no real value to anyone but those who sell it. Follow the money and you will see the reason for the continuing promotion of sunscreens. So hats off to Dr. Planta, who has done her part to expose the sunscreen swindle. After her analysis, she states … “providers may need to alter their advice regarding sunscreen use for CMM prevention.” Amen.

[1] Margaret B. Planta, MD Sunscreen and Melanoma: Is Our Prevention Message Correct? J Am Board Fam Med 2011;24:735–739.

[2] United States Environmental Protection Agency. Sunscreen: The Burning Facts. Available at: http://


[3] Melanoma International Foundation, 2007 Facts about melanoma. Sources: : National Cancer Institute 2007 SEER Database, American Cancer Society's 2007 Facts and Figures, The Skin Cancer Foundation, The American Academy of Dermatology.

[4] Kline & Company's Cosmetics & Toiletries USA Annual Service (1972 and 2008 editions).

[5] Fredonia market research group report, 2009.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Skin cancer and nutrition—stop blaming the sun!

In the rush by dermatologists and sunscreen companies to demonize sunlight exposure as the universal cause of skin cancers, there has been a total disregard for another factor that strongly protects against or strongly promotes skin damage. That factor is what we eat. Nutrition, according to whether it is healthful or noxious, can have either profoundly positive or negative influences on the skin.

As an example, polyphenols are antioxidant phytochemicals that prevent free-radical damage and thus protect the skin. Polyphenols are prevalent in foods such as nuts, seeds, onions, green tea, pomegranates, apples, berries, cherries and other fruits, grape seeds, as well as vegetables and dried legumes. They also exist in such nutrients as resveratrol and silymarin (milk thistle extract). These nutritional superstars are able to reduce inflammation, quench oxidative stress and thereby prevent free-radical damage to DNA, inhibit immunosuppression, and diminish dysregulation of cellular signaling pathways, thereby reducing the potential for skin cancers.[i],[ii]

Particularly interesting is the fact that green tea extract and other polyphenol-containing products such as grape-seed proanthocyanadins, have been shown to inhibit the formation of skin tumors. Two researchers, writing in the Archives of Dermatological Research, made the following conclusion after a thorough review of literature regarding polyphenols and skin cancer: “Based on the epidemiological evidence and laboratory studies conducted using in vitro and in vivo systems, it is suggested that routine consumption or topical treatment of these polyphenols may provide efficient protection against the harmful effects of solar ultraviolet radiation in humans.”ii

We might conclude that protective nutrition would include the consumption of several glasses of green tea daily, some dark green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and other deep greens, and the daily habit of eating dark berries, cherries and other such fruits. But there are other vegetables involved in the fight against skin cancer.

Some of the best skin protectants are tomatoes, which contain the antioxidant lycopene. One investigation showed that among individuals who consumed forty grams of tomato paste daily for ten weeks, sunburn-resistance time increased by 40%,[iii] and other research demonstrated that eating other tomato-based products correlated to significantly reduced risk of sunburn after exposure to ultraviolet radiation.[iv] And it is also known that individuals with the lowest intake of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, cryptoxanthin, lutein, and lycopene (all carotenoid antioxidants found in such vegetables as carrots and tomatoes) had a 50% increased risk for melanoma.[v]

And what are factors that have negative influences on the risk of skin cancer? Alcohol consumption is one such factor; research indicated a 250% increased melanoma risk among those who consumed two or more alcoholic drinks per day.[vi] There are at least two other negative dietary aspects that correlate to increased skin-cancer risk: first, the highest dairy-product consumption has also been shown to correlate to a 2 ½ times increase in risk of developing a squamous-cell carcinoma (common skin cancer, not melanoma).[vii] Secondly, the types of fats we consume are exceptionally important. In my book, I have discussed and documented this topic thoroughly, but suffice it to say that the types of 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 cancer.

To summarize: to the extent that sunlight 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. Even vitamin D, which protects against so many cancers (including skin cancer), will not be able to completely overcome the deleterious effect of the “suicide diet” that most of us consume.

[i] Afaq F, Katiyar SK. Polyphenols: Skin Photoprotection and Inhibition of Photocarcinogenesis. Mini Rev Med Chem 2011 Oct 28. [Epub ahead of print]

[ii] Afaq F, Katiyar SK. Skin photoprotection by natural polyphenols: Anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and DNA repair mechanisms. Arch Dermatol Res 2010;302:71.

[iii] Stahl, W. et al. Dietary Tomato Paste Protects against Ultraviolet Light–Induced Erythema in Humans. J Nutr 2001;131:1449-51.

[iv] Aust, O. et al. Supplementation with tomato-based products increases lycopene, phytofluene, and phytoene levels in human serum and protects against UV-light-induced erythema. Int J Vitam Nutr Res 2005;75:54-60.

[v] Millen A. et al. Diet and melanoma in a case-control study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2004;13:1042-51

[vi] Bain, C. et al. Diet and melanoma. An exploratory case-control study. Ann Epidemiol 1993;3:235-38.

[vii] Hughes, M. et al. 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.