Skin cancer strikes 2.2 million people each year in the U.S. And if you want to avoid getting it, I actually recommend spending a little time in the sun.
Yes, you read that right.
Spend more time in the sun to prevent skin cancer. I’ll explain my reasoning in a moment. But first let’s take a closer look at skin cancer.
The two main types of skin cancer are: basal cell and squamous cell. In fact, these account for 91 percent of all skin cancer cases. But these types of “cancer” don’t metastasize or spread. In fact, they stay right on the surface of the skin, without “invading” the body like other cancers. Plus, they’re easily diagnosed and treated. And they don’t cause death.
Many experts now recommend that we stop calling these two types of skin growths “cancer.” It will prevent overdiagnosis and overtreatment. Not to mention cut back on the traumatic cancer scares and “false alarms” that come from using this word.
Malignant melanoma is the third type of skin cancer. It’s the truly dangerous form of skin cancer. Fortunately, it only accounts for 9 percent of skin cancer cases.
Nonetheless, the mainstream government-industrial-medical complex continues to frighten the entire population about the high prevalence of skin cancer. And they warn you to avoid sun exposure altogether to prevent it.
Clearly, that hasn’t worked out well at all. As I mentioned in the 3/11/2014 Daily Dispatch, we now face a modern day epidemic of vitamin D deficiency. And it’s literally killing us.
For almost 100 years, we have known that vitamin D is necessary for bone health. Since then, we have learned it also prevents autoimmune diseases, heart disease, and cancer
And now, we know it even prevents skin cancer!
I recently found a study–buried in a highly technical cancer research journal called Carcinogenesis–that explains how and why vitamin D and sunlight can prevent skin cancer.
Two of the three authors–Graham Colditz and David Hunter–are part of the research team that has worked for a long time with my colleague Walter Willett at Harvard. This team has brought us many key studies on diet, nutrition and health over the past three decades. And much of their great work uses data from probably the single, best study cohort called the Nurses’ Health Study. It began in 1976. And it follows 121,700 women living in the United States.
So, let’s connect the dots about vitamin D, sunlight exposure, and skin cancer…
The researchers found that specific waves of sunlight cause your skin to synthesize vitamin D. But lack of sun exposure causes a vitamin D deficiency. And this contributes to the development of all three types of skin cancer.
The researchers discovered that activated vitamin D in the blood actually interrupts the cancer cell cycle. And it prevents the cancer cells from multiplying and spreading. It even promotes the differentiation back to non-cancerous cells. In other words, it takes cells that are starting to look cancerous and normalizes them.
They discovered vitamin D works this way against all three types of skin cancer. Even malignant melanoma.
The researchers made this incredible discovery by conducting state-of-the-art genetic analysis. This analysis allowed them to trace how vitamin D affects gene regulation.
As part of their research, the team looked at skin cancer rates and vitamin D levels for all 121,700 women in the cohort. The women were between 43 and 68 years old.
They learned that women with malignant melanoma only took in 311 IU/per day of vitamin D. Women with squamous cell tumors took in 340 IU/day of vitamin D. And women with basal cell tumors took in 326 IU/day of vitamin D.
As you know, you need much more vitamin D than that each day. Especially if you live in the northern two-thirds of the U.S., where the sun isn’t as strong.
Now, here’s another interesting part of the study…
Fifty percent of the women with malignant melanoma reported taking a multivitamin. Fifty four percent of women with squamous cell skin growths reported taking one. And 52 percent of women with basal cell cases said they took one.
So, in this case, multivitamins didn’t help prevent cancer. I’m sure the mainstream press would delight in that discovery! (In fact, they do delight in it, as I will explain in an upcoming Daily Dispatch.)
But that part of the study didn’t surprise me.
As I always say, the vast majority of multivitamins are poor quality. They rarely contain proper dosages and proper ingredients. When it comes to vitamin D, multivitamins miss the boat completely. They usually only contain paltry amounts.
Of course, sun exposure is the most potent “source” of active vitamin D. During the summer, if you spend 15 minutes in the sun at midday without sunblock, your skin can produce 3,000 to 20,000 IU of vitamin D on its own. Just be careful not to burn.
But from October to April at latitudes above Atlanta, Georgia, you don’t get any vitamin D from sun exposure. The sun never gets high enough or strong enough to activate any vitamin D.
And you probably can’t maintain optimal vitamin D levels by taking a daily vitamin D supplement with only 1,000 or 2,000 IU. I recommend that everyone take a daily supplement with 5,000 IU of vitamin D.
And once you flip the calendar to April, spend 15 minutes a day in the sun without sunscreen. It will help thwart all three types of skin cancer and other cancers. And boost your longevity.
1. “Cancer Facts & Figures 2013,” The American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org)
2. “Overdiagnosis and Overtreatment in Cancer: An Opportunity for Improvement,” JAMA 2013;310(8):797-798
3. “Sunlight and vitamin D for bone health and prevention of autoimmune diseases, cancers, and cardiovascular disease,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition December 2004; 80(6): 1678S-1688S
4. “Polymorphisms in the MTHFR and VDR genes and skin cancer risk,” Carcinogenesis 2007; 28(2): 390-397