Experts slam past advice that sun exposure is a health risk

Experts slam past advice that sun exposure is a health risk

A ‘Landmark study’ from four experts in various aspects of vitamin D, sun exposure and health, unveils that past public health advice to reduce sun exposure actually increases overall mortally and contributes to over 300,000 deaths each year; heart attacks, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's, diabetes and cancers like breast, colorectal and prostate all show increased incidence and mortality with low blood vitamin D levels.

The scientists (David Hoel, University Southern Carolina; Michael Holick, Boston University Medical Center; Marianne Berwick, University of New Mexico Cancer Center; and Frank de Gruijl of Leiden Medical Center, Holland) behind the study (1) are all world experts in the fields of public health, endocrinology, dermatology and vitamin D. They completed a meta-study where they reviewed and referenced more than 100 papers and concluded that public health guidelines around sun exposure must be rewritten so that people are encouraged to focus on non-burning sun exposure. This means that people should focus on getting moderate amounts of sunshine whilst making sure they do not burn (writes Gilly Bertram).

Chris Woollams, former Oxford Biochemist and a founder of CANCERactive said, “We have told the world exactly this for 15 years since we started our charity. The advice from bodies like Cancer Research UK to stay out of the sun has caused untold illness and actually increased death rates. Vitamin D is essential to preventing cardiovascular problems, Alzheimer’s, Diabetes and also cancer. How wrong could the biggest cancer charity in the UK be? They misinformed millions of people when the evidence was clear? They even get into bed with sponsorship from sunscreen manufacturers too. We launched the Safe Sun campaign more than a decade ago to counter all the nonsense. Safe Sun was and is all about gaining the benefits of sunshine while minimising the risks, some of which come from sunscreen use!”

Go to: The CANCERactive SafeSun Campaign

The researchers acknowledge the abundant benefits of healthy sun exposure and were clear that it should NOT be avoided. Many of these benefits are related to vitamin D as our bodies make vitamin D when the sun’s rays hit our skin. However new data shows many other benefits for sun exposure which are unrelated to vitamin D, from other substances produced when our skin is exposed to the sun.

Woollams added, “Sun exposure also generates serotonin in our bodies, which lifts our moods instead of popping anti-depression pills. Sun exposure increases nitric oxide levels in our bodies, which reduces blood pressure and heart attack risk.”

The authors estimate that 13% of people in America die due to low levels of vitamin D because they have been encouraged to avoid the sun to avoid getting skin cancer. New data shows that the associations of skin cancer with sun exposure only link to over-exposure and sunburn. “93% of people being diagnosed with melanoma have low vitamin D levels around 15-20 ng/ml, when you need levels around 100ng/ml to effectively arm your immune system so it can prevent chronic illnesses like cancer. We’ve known this for years and we’ve been telling people for years,” added Woollams.

The authors investigated the influence of sun exposure and/or circulating vitamin D levels in the blood on the risk and/or mortality of cancers such as breast, prostate, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) and colorectal cancer. They were able to conclude that overall cancer risk and mortality of colorectal, breast, prostate and NHL all benefitted either from increased sun exposure and/or higher circulating levels of vitamin D in the blood.

Sunscreen is marketed as a tool for people to prevent sunburn but the researchers state that the public should be made aware that over-use of sunscreens will block vitamin D production in the skin and put people at an increased risk of cancer.

As a result of the study, the authors are calling for sunscreen companies to label their products with a statement acknowledging that sunscreens are not shown to be effective in preventing skin cancer.

Go to: Vitamin D - are you getting enough?


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