The campaign to curtail Americans’ exposure to the sun has become the standard of care in American medicine. Now it’s become a hot button. The scare tactics of the cosmeceuticals industry have been embraced by most of the dermatology profession. These groups have worked in concert and frightened the daylights out of the people, or to put it more accurately, frightened people out of the daylight.
One of this country’s leading medical educators and researchers, Michael Holick, MD, lost his tenure in dermatology at Boston University when he dared to question their dogma.
Evidence is given in Dr. Holick’s book The UV Advantage that vitamin D levels are too low in a large fraction of the world’s humans, especially those with dark skin and living more than 30° from the equator. The deficiency causes an increase in osteoporosis, rickets, high blood pressure, stroke, heart attacks, arthritis, multiple sclerosis and cancer than had been believed just 20 years ago. The types of skin cancer caused by excessive sunlight are easily treated and are rarely fatal.
Dr. Robert Heaney of Creighton University in Omaha, NE, agrees that we may have taken avoiding all sun exposure too far stating, “Holick provides a much needed antidote to the scare tactics of the cosmetics skin mafia.” Other medical experts agree that Dr. Holick’s book The UV Advantage “…provides the clinical community with the first balanced, unbiased view of the benefits and dangers of sunlight exposure in the last 50 years.”
While the American Academy of Dermatology has adopted a policy to advise all Americans to practice a “comprehensive sun protection program, including avoiding outdoor activities between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest, seeking shade wherever possible, wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun-protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 and reapplying it every 2 hours, and wearing sun-protective clothing,” there is no uniform agreement among medical experts.
Medicine has now recognized the vast extent of vitamin D deficiency among Americans who studiously avoid sun exposure and attempt to get vitamin D through dietary sources (fortified milk and orange juice, mushrooms, cod liver oil). Vitamin D deficiency is linked to a growing list of cancer including melanoma. While no one including Dr. Holick, Dr. Heaney, or other medical experts who study vitamin D advocate unlimited sun exposure, or overexposure, it is increasingly clear that our bodies were designed to produce vitamin D when exposed to the sun for many medical reasons. One of the most prominent is cancer prevention; others include healthy bones, heart disease and cancer prevention, diabetes prevention, healthy minds, balance, immune system function and potentially reversing autoimmune conditions including multiple sclerosis.
Avoiding all sun exposure or using sunscreens whenever going outside is now linked with the realization that as many as 80% of Americans are vitamin D deficient. We clearly link cancer with Vitamin D deficiency. Researchers such as Dr. Collen Hayes, UWI-Madison, educate us that vitamin D deficiency is unknown at the equator. Autoimmune conditions are also unknown at the equator. There, we would get the equivalent of 5,000 IUs of vitamin D daily. While we have yet to learn from the FDA what risk retinyl palmitate in sunscreens creates for us, we are the first generation to cover ourselves with chemicals to avoid sun exposure.
With the news that Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) had called on the FDA to reveal the findings between a possible link between a chemical found in most sunscreens, retinyl palmitate, and skin cancer, it’s time to discuss the risks versus the benefits of reasonable, modest sun exposure.
For thousands of years we have survived and excelled with reasonable sun exposure. It may be time to rethink what “the skin mafias” have culturally conditioned each of us to do, that is, avoid and cover up from the sun. Educate yourself and make the decision about regular, modest sun exposure that is right for you.
By Deborah A. Ray MT(ASCP) - Copyright © 2010 Natural Health Science News. Permission granted to forward, copy, or reprint with date and attribution to Natural Health Science News. HealthKeepers Magazine March 2011.