Scaring ourselves out of the sun may be fueling epidemics of cancer and autoimmune disease. Here’s a classic example:
There is no such thing as a safe tan, U.S. and British researchers said on Thursday.
They said in their review of published studies that tans and skin cancer both begin with DNA damage caused by exposure to ultraviolet light but many people, especially the young, ignore or are unaware of this danger in a quest for a bronzed body.
Humans developed over many centuries working, playing, and living outside, under the sun. About 40 years ago, we went inside, put on sun screen and hats when we’re outside, because science told us we were killing ourselves with skin cancer. But guess what? We’re killing ourselves with all kinds of cancers, because hiding from the sun has created an unprecedented epidemic of vitamin D deficiency–so much so that Rickets has returned in the children of dark skinned mothers (who are also not out in the sun).
Our food supply doesn’t have nearly the sources of vitamin D to make up for what we are not getting from the sun. In an hour of sun exposure, most people (if they get just slightly pink) will make between 10 and 20 THOUSAND units of vitamin D-3. So when you read that you should increase your vitamin D intake from 400 IU per day (which dose nothing to correct D deficiency) to 1000 units a day (which dose just a little to start to correct deficiency), think about how much vitamin D our bodies are designed to make in the summer sun. We’re designed to live off the vitamin D stores in our body fat during the winter months, but most people run low–which many vitamin D experts believe is what’s behind “flu season”.
If you’re going to replace sun with vitamin D supplements, better be thinking more along the line of 4-6 thousand units a day (and 10 thousand if you’re overweight, since vitamin D gets lost in body fat stores). True, too much sun can spoil your fun, and eventually lead to skin cancer for some, but the kinds of cancer caused by cumulative sun exposure are basal cell and squamous cell cancers, which are more “nuisance” cancers–almost nobody dies from them. The deadly one is melanoma. Since the anti-sun campaign was started in Australia, melanoma rates have continued to soar–probably because robust levels of vitamin D in the body help to prevent melanoma, as well as most of the other common skin cancers.
There is some reasonable scientific evidence that antioxidants in diet and supplements, as well as omega-3 fatty acids can protect our skin’s DNA from sun damage, and reduce the risk of the “nuisance” skin cancers, as well as retard skin aging.