Does Too Much Sun Really Cause Melanoma?

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Sam Shuster, a consultant dermatologist at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, argues that sun exposure is not the major cause of malignant melanoma.

Melanoma is related more to ethnicity, and in 75 percent of cases it occurs on relatively unexposed sites, especially on the feet of Africans. Melanoma occurrence actually decreases with greater sun exposure and can be increased by sunscreens.

There is also good evidence that the reported increase in melanoma incidence is an caused by the incorrect classification of benign naevi as malignant melanomas, which would explain why melanoma mortality has changed little despite the great increase in supposed incidence.

Sources: Eurekalert July 22, 2008


Dr. Mercola’s Comments:

Unfortunately, in the United States, as well as many other Western countries, the sun has been unfairly demonized. Many people have been convinced that it is necessary to avoid  the sun to decrease their risk of cancer, when the converse is actually true.

And, EVEN IF increased sun exposure does not decrease your risk of melanoma specifically – the most dangerous and rare form of skin cancer — why would anyone in their right mind want to exchange the risk of a few harmless skin cancers with that of serious life-threatening challenges like breast-, prostate- and colon cancers?


Reduced Overall Cancer Risk Outweigh Any Risk of Melanoma

In fact, other studies have confirmed that the benefits of moderate sun exposure FAR outweigh its risks. For example, people who live in sunnier, southern latitudes and have higher vitamin D levels as a result of their increased sun exposure, are less likely to die from any type of cancer than people in northern latitudes.

Optimizing your vitamin D levels can help you to prevent as many as 16 different types of cancer including pancreatic, lung, breast, ovarian, prostate, and colon cancers. And vitamin D does not just impact your cancer risk slightly. It can cut your risk by as much as 60 percent!

Its protective effect against cancer works in several ways, including: 

  • Increasing the self-destruction of mutated cells (which, if allowed to replicate, could lead to cancer)
  • Reducing the spread and reproduction of cancer cells
  • Causing cells to become differentiated (cancer cells often lack differentiation)
  • Reducing the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, which is a step in the transition of dormant tumors turning cancerous 

Previous studies have found that more than one million people die every year from lack of sun exposure and subsequent vitamin D deficiency, so you really need to overcome your fear of the sun if you want to stay optimally healthy.


The Cumulative Benefits of Sun Exposure FAR Outweigh Your Risk of Skin Cancer

But the benefits don’t end with reduced cancer risk. Appropriate sun exposure has also been linked to:

  • Fewer aging-related changes in your DNA
  • Lowered inflammatory responses
  • Lowered insulin resistance
  • Reduced heart disease risk

Northern countries (with less intense sunlight and colder winters) have higher levels of heart disease than sun-filled southern countries, and more heart attacks occur in the winter months, when sunlight is scarce.

One study even discovered that low vitamin D levels more than doubled the risk of heart attack and death. That’s big!  

Past studies have also found that getting a daily dose of vitamin D boosts your natural anti-inflammatory response, which can help treat congestive heart failure. 


Just how does vitamin D help your heart? 

There are a number of mechanisms triggered by vitamin D production that help fight heart disease, including:

  • An increase in your body’s natural anti-inflammatory cytokines
  • The suppression of vascular calcification
  • The inhibition of vascular smooth muscle growth


What May Be a Greater Risk Factor for Melanoma Than the Sun?

In 2001, the National Academy of Sciences published a comprehensive review showing that your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio was the key to preventing skin cancer development. 

If you’re like the average American, you’re likely consuming far too many omega-6 fats, and far too little omega-3.

If you want to reduce or virtually eliminate your risk of skin- and other cancers, it will be vital to radically reduce your consumption of most vegetable oils, as they are high in omega-6 fats. Just 100 years ago, the average American consumed less than one pound of these oils per year, and today that amount has exploded to 75 pounds per year.

Another Australian study showed a 40 percent reduction in melanoma for those who ate fish, which is rich in omega-3. This is one of the many reasons why I highly recommend taking krill oil or fish oil as a safe and effective alternative to increase your intake of beneficial omega-3s, considering the fact that most fish is now heavily contaminated with high levels of mercury.




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This entry was posted on Saturday, May 25th, 2024 at 9:05 pm and is filed under Research.

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