Skin Cancer, Vitamin D and Safe Enhanced Tanning
Your body relies on you to give it what it needs. We have been told that Vitamin D, especially from the sun source – is good for your health. We are told that sun exposure causes skin cancer and we must apply sunscreen, the higher the better so that the risk of developing skin cancer is minimised. The fear of the big “C” word is enough to have us lacquering up with thick cream before exposing ourselves to the sun. How then could we possibly absorb enough Vitamin D to keep us at optimal health.
Our skin manufactures Vitamin D.
This is in response to our exposure to UV light
It seems in the past few years there has been an ongoing debate amongst physicians and scientists. They argue about Vitamin D, our sun and its exposure. Are the dangers of developing skin cancer keeping us inside away from the most beneficial source of Vitamin D? It has been discovered that Vitamin D helps prevent prostate, colon, breast cancer (among other cancers) as well as prevents bone deficiencies and diseases.
The authors, Deon Wolpowitz, MD, PhD, and Barbara A. Gilchrest, MD, researched and reviewed a massive amount of information about vitamin D and sun safety. They found that in sun-drenched areas where people have greater sun exposure, there are fewer cases of colon cancer (presumably because of sun-induced vitamin D), and fewer deaths from colon cancer, prostate and breast cancer.
Is Lack of Sunlight Causing an Increase in Melanoma?
Over the years, several studies have confirmed that appropriate sun exposure actually helps prevent the development of skin cancer.
In fact, the occurance of melanoma is minimised with greater sun exposure.
One of the most important facts you should be aware of is that an epidemic of the disease has broken out among indoor workers. Indoor workers get three to nine times less solar UV exposure than outdoor workers get, yet only indoor workers have the increasing rates of melanoma – rates of which have been increasing since the 1940’s.
How to prevent skin cancer
There are two primary types of Ultraviolet Rays emitted from the sun:
- the vitamin-D-producing UVB rays
- the skin-damaging UVA light.
Both UVA and UVB will cause you to tan and burn. UVB light will tan and burn your skin much faster than UVA, however, UVA penetrates your skin on a deeper level. UVA is most likely to be the main factor in photoaging, skin wrinkling and skin cancers.
Vitamin D has the potential to help protect you against cancer. Vitamin D is a steroid hormone that influences almost every cell in your body. It is easily considered one of nature’s most potent natural cancer fighters. Organs within our body convert Vitamin D in the bloodstream into calcitriol and use it to repair damage from cancer cells and tumours. Calcitriol is the hormonal activated version of Vitamin D.
Vitamin D’s protective effect against cancer works in numerous ways, including:
- Increasing the self-destruction of mutated cells (which, if allowed to replicate, could lead to cancer)
- Reducing the spread of cancer cells as well as reducing the reproduction of cancer cells
- Causing cells to become differentiated (cancer cells often lack differentiation)
- Reducing the growth of new blood vessels from those that were pre-existing. This is one of the steps in the transition of dormant tumours turning into cancerous tumours.
This applies not only to skin cancer but other cancer types as well. Theories that link vitamin D to specific cancers have been tested and confirmed in more than 200 epidemiological studies. The understanding of its physiological basis stems from over 2,500 laboratory studies, according to epidemiologist Cedric Garland, DrPH, professor of family and preventive medicine at the UC San Diego School of Medicine.
A large-scale, randomized, placebo-controlled study on vitamin D and cancer showed that vitamin D can cut overall cancer risk by up to 60 percent. This news was so groundbreaking that the Canadian Cancer Society has now begun endorsing the vitamin as a cancer-prevention therapy.
The best time to expose oneself to the sun for vitamin D production is as near to solar noon as possible. In the summer, this is at 1pm approximately. The more damaging UVA rays are fairly constant during ALL hours of daylight. This is true, throughout the entire year– unlike UVB, which are low in morning and evening and high at midday.
When using the sun to maximize your vitamin D production and minimize your risk of malignant melanoma, the middle of the day (roughly between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.) is the best and safest time. During this timeframe it is best to limit your exposure time due to the fact that the UVB rays are most intense.
Coupling limited exposure to the sun with alternative products that help promote safe tanning and enhance your colour without UVA/UVB damage is a healthy solution to achieving the bronzed look you are seeking.
Benefits of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential in the maintenance of bone health. It also may have other benefits, such as protection against colds and in alleviating the symptoms of depression.
If you do not go out in the sun often, or if your body has had trouble absorbing the vitamin., there are other ways you can achieve adequate intake.
- Consume Fatty fish i.e. salmon, trout, mackerel and tuna.
- Canned Tuna Fish or Sardines
- Portabello Mushrooms
- Fortified Milk
- Fortified Orange Juice
- Fortified Cereals
- Beef Liver
- Cod Liver Oil
- Egg Yolks