The Healing Sun: Breast Cancer and The Sun

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The Healing Sun by Richard Hobday presents evidence showing an increase in disease with a decrease in sunlight exposure.  This article addresses the topic: Breast Cancer and The Sun

How Sunlight Can Prevent Serious Health Problems

by Richard Hobday, taken from his book, The Healing Sun


Breast Cancer and The Sun

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women, causing about 370,000 deaths annually worldwide. Each year some 220,000 women in Europe and 180,000 women in North America are diagnosed with the disease. About 15,000 British women die of breast cancer annually, a death rate that is higher than elsewhere in western Europe. One in 12 British women will develop breast cancer at some time in their lives and, as we have already seen, the incidence of breast cancer is increasing. The reasons for this are not altogether clear, but lack of sunlight could be a factor. In 1989 the Drs Garland, together with Dr Edward Gorham, published the first ever epidemiological work on the relationship between sun exposure and breast cancer (see Table 4). Their research demonstrated that, as in the case of colon cancer, there was a strong negative correlation between available sunlight and breast cancer death rates. The chances of women from areas of the United States with less available sunlight dying of breast cancer were 40 per cent higher than those of women who lived in Hawaii or Florida. Worldwide, the lowest rates for breast and colon cancer occur in the Caribbean, South and Central America, North Africa and South Asia. Countries in these regions are within 20 degrees of the equator, where the sun’s rays are particularly strong, and where mortality rates for breast and colon cancer are 4-6 times lower than in northern Europe or North America.


Table 4: Breast Cancer and Latitude

Country Latitude (°) I Death rate per 100,000 population
Northern Ireland 54 26.9
Republic of Ireland 53 25.7
England and Wales 52 29.0
Netherlands 52 25.8
Germany 51 21.9
Belgium 50 25.6
Austria 47 22.0
Switzerland 47 24.9
France 46 19.0
Canada 45 23.5
New Hampshire, USA 44 25.0
New York, USA 43 25.6
Connecticut, USA 42 23.6
Rhode Island, USA 42 25.7
Massachusetts 42 25.0
Italy 42 20.4
New Zealand 41 25.0
New Jersey, USA 40 25.8
Spain 40 15.0
Greece 39 15.1
Japan 36 5.8
New Mexico, USA 34 19.4
Arizona, USA 34 20.0
Australia 33 20.5
Israel 31 22.5
Chile 30 12.7
Florida 28 20.9
Mexico 23 6.3
Hawaii, USA 20 15.0
Guatemala 15 2.3
Annual Age-Adjusted Death Rates from Breast Cancer per 100,000 Population by Latitude of Residence for Women in Selected Areas, 1986-1990. After Garland, C.F., Garland, F.C., and Gorham, E.D., ‘Epidemiology of Cancer Risk and Vitamin D’ inVitamin D: Molecular Biology, Physiology, and Clinical Applications, (Ed. Holick, M.F.), Humana Press, New Jersey, 1999


The Garlands’ research shows that in the United States individuals at high risk for breast cancer also have a high risk for colon cancer. They tend to be urban, living in the less sunny and more polluted north-eastern states, where soft coal with a high sulphur content is burned extensively for electricity generation, smelting and heating. The air pollution which was responsible for their forebears developing rickets is still present. It may not be as severe, but it is still blocking out ultraviolet radiation and inhibiting the synthesis of vitamin D. This could account for the marked difference in the risk of breast and colon cancer in the urban northeast compared with rural areas. A similar association between breast and colon cancer, air pollution and latitude levels has been shown in Canada and Italy. Also, breast cancer is twice as common in the northern republics of the Soviet commonwealth — the former USSR — than in republics in the south, with intermediate rates at intermediate latitudes.

While it is clear that the mortality and incidence of breast cancer and colon cancer in North America and other areas of the world increases with distance from the equator, there is one notable exception to this trend, japan is a heavily industrialized country which is situated at a relatively high latitude, but which has had a low incidence of breast and colon cancer. This anomaly has been attributed to the fact that the traditional Japanese diet is unusually rich in vitamin D from fish, the average intake of vitamin D there is about ten times that of the average level for adults in the United Kingdom or the United States. Dietary intake of vitamin D and calcium influences the incidence of colon cancer in a similar way to that of rickets: both vitamin D and calcium are needed to keep colon cancer and rickets at bay.

Dietary intake of fat or fibre or fruit and vegetables has very little influence on the north-south gradient of colon and breast cancer in North America. Intake of fruit and vegetables is actually slightly higher in the northeast than in the rest of the country. The consumption of high-fibre cereals and bread is lower in the south than the northeast and dietary fat intake does not vary by region across the country.




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Tom Humes said:

on January 25th, 2009

Nice Site layout for your blog. I am looking forward to reading more from you.

Tom Humes


The Healing Sun: Breast Cancer and The Sun | said:

on January 25th, 2009

[…] The Healing Sun: Breast Cancer and The Sun […]

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