Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sunlight: Ultraviolet B (UVB) Radiation Reduces Risk of 16 Types of Cancer in U.S.

Can you stand one more story on how sunlight reduces cancer, not causes it?

I was watching my local news on television the other night, and there was a story about cancer. At the end of the segment, the anchorperson said something like: "And we know the causes of cancer are smoking, (something I don't remember), and sunlight."

I wanted to pull my hair out, or call the station, or shout from the rooftop that their misrepresentation to the public of sunlight is probably causing thousands of deaths annually, as well as costing those people months of suffering and millions in insurance and co-pays. We have known for years that the vitamin D that we get from sunlight protects far more than sunlight harms.

Before I get to the feature article though, I want to toss out something else for you to think about. I saw a couple of things that rang all sorts of warning bells for me. These two especially seem to fit like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle:

Effects of Sun on the Skin

Cellular Skin Changes Caused by UV Radiation

By Heather Brannon, MD, About.com

Updated: March 23, 2007

"UVB Radiation
"UVB affects the outer layer of skin, the epidermis, and is the primary agent responsible for sunburns. It is the most intense between the hours of
10:00 am and 2:00 pm when the sunlight is brightest. It is also more intense in the summer months accounting for 70% of a person's yearly UVB dose. UVB does not penetrate glass. [This is exactly what we need to reduce our risk of sixteen different cancers!]

"UVA Radiation
"UVA was once thought to have a minor effect on skin damage, but now studies are showing that UVA is a major contributor to skin damage. UVA penetrates deeper into the skin and works more efficiently. The intensity of UVA radiation is more constant than UVB without the variations during the day and throughout the year. UVA is also not filtered by glass."
[Bold emphasis added]

I really want you to think about this next paragraph. All due respect to Dr Brannon, but maybe this explains why the effect of UVA really was minor in the past and is not now:


"There’s another hypothesis that Johanna Budwig proposed in the sixties concerning how UV light affects the body. She reported that with an increase of polyunsaturated oils and trans fats in our diets came a proportional increase in skin cancer rates; that certain wavelengths of sunlight vibrate at the same frequency as the chemical bonds in unsaturated fatty acids (and partially hydrogenated oils) that can give rise to early mutations; mutations which eventually become cancers." [Bold emphasis added]

I grew up in the '50s and '60s, and we, and often our parents, spent hours every day in the sun, especially in the summer when we kids were playing outside from breakfast to bedtime, and our mothers and grandmothers were tending the garden, hanging clothing to dry, and our fathers were doing yard work or other outdoor tasks. Not one single one of us ever had skin cancer….Not One! (Nor, by the way, was clinical depression a "major childhood affliction" as it is now!)

So, has the sun changed into a more damaging orb in the last 50 years? (Unlikely!) Has the American diet changed into a more damaging feature of our lifestyle. (Probably.)

There is one more vote for the damaging diet most Americans eat, and that is the implication of High Fructose Corn Syrup you now find in about 80% of the processed food items purchased and consumed daily. The use of HFCS ballooned in the mid-1970s, just about the time cancer ballooned also, and is now contained in nearly every processed food on the supermarket shelf. It has enough health-damaging implications without the link to cancer, but I saw this and more bells went off:

The quotes below are from an article on Johanna Budwig:

First there was Otto Warburg who was awarded the 1931 Nobel Prize for medicine for his describing the metabolism of a cancer cell. He stated that the cell suddenly became anaerobic (without oxygen) and required massive amounts of glucose (sugar) to metabolize in a form that could only be described as fermentation: [Bold emphasis added]

"The prime cause of cancer is the replacement of the normal oxygen respiration of body cells by an anaerobic cell respiration." -- Otto Warburg

The cell takes in glucose (sugar; cancer loves sugar) and gives off lactic acid which creates an acidic environment. Again, this is something that has been known for years. Cancer needs an acidic environment to flourish, and conversely, cannot survive in a balanced alkaline environment. [Bold emphasis added]

And, what do we find in vast amounts in our processed foods? High Fructose Corn Syrup (a concoction of fructose and glucose) that has been cut with regular corn syrup (more glucose) to create whatever fructose/glucose balance the producer wants between fructose and glucose! This means there is glucose in some measure in about 80% of the foods you eat daily. This was not true before 1975, before the rates for cancer skyrocketed. (Just think about it!)

I don't believe there is any one, single, overwhelming cause of cancer in our society today; it's a mix of pollutants, both environmental and dietary. One way to protect yourself is to do what the educated experts advise: get plenty of sunlight!

Here is the article that started this particular chain of research:

Ultraviolet B (UVB) Radiation Reduces Risk of 16 Types of Cancer in U.S.

Posted online: Saturday, August 05, 2006 at 8:36:20 AM

A study published this week in Anticancer Research confirms that solar UVB irradiance is associated with reduced risk of 16 sites of cancer, apparently through production of vitamin D. These cancers include 6 sites of gastrointestinal cancers, 3 cancers of female sites, 3 urogenital cancers, 2 types of lymphomas, and 2 upper aerodigestive tract cancers.

The analysis examined age-adjusted mortality rate data from 49 states plus the District of Columbia for two periods: 1950-69 and 1970-94. [Note: remember that High Fructose Corn Syrup came into general use in 1975] Other cancer risk-modifying factors were included in the analysis. A proxy indicator of smoking was associated with risk at 10 cancer sites, alcohol consumption with 9 sites, urban residence with 7, and Hispanic heritage with 6.

"This study provides important additional support for the vitamin D/cancer hypothesis" according to William Grant. This new study shows that the approach used, a statistical comparison of cancer mortality rates by state according to several cancer risk factors, is likely to be reliable since the results for known factors other than UVB agreed well with the results in the literature. In addition, the new study replicates many of the links between higher levels of vitamin D and lower risk of cancer that were identified in earlier studies that had less control for risk factors other than vitamin D or UVB deficiency."

"The mechanisms whereby vitamin D reduces the risk of cancer are well known, and include effects on intercellular adhesion, apoptosis (programmed cellular death), the inhibition of angiogenesis around tumors and the inhibition of metastasis." [Bold emphasis added]

According to co-author Cedric Garland, Dr.P.H., "Enhancing vitamin D status appears to be the single most important single simple thing that people can do to reduce their risk of cancer, apart from avoiding tobacco and moderation in intake of alcohol. While solar ultraviolet B is not always available or convenient for synthesis of vitamin D and entails a possible small increase in risk of nonmelanoma skin cancer, vitamin D supplements are readily available and nontoxic in the preventive range of 1,000-1,500 IU/day."

According to William Grant, Ph.D. "Other recent studies recently found that it takes 1000 to 1500 International Units (I.U.) of vitamin D per day to reduce the risk of cancer incidence and death by 30-50%. In the U.S., dietary sources provide only 250 to 300 I.U. per day. People with fair skin living in the sunnier regions of the country can make 1500 I.U. of vitamin D in about 20 minutes near solar noon with 10-20% of their body exposed, i.e., arms and back in women and back or chest in men. Those with darker skin require 2-4 times as much time or body exposed for the same vitamin D production. This may help explain why black Americans have higher cancer incidence and mortality rates than white Americans, which was described recently in the Journal of the National Medical Association."

Cedric Garland added, "Briefly exposing a large enough area of skin for adequate vitamin D synthesis is more effective than increasing the amount of time spent in the sun. Protracted exposures to the sun are counterproductive after the 20-30 minutes at most when vitamin D synthesis for the day is complete. People of all ages should wear a hat whenever spending more than a few minutes in the sun, and should spend the time walking or otherwise in motion." [Bold emphasis added]

William Grant added "The public receives a steady barrage of public service messages to avoid the sun and wear sunscreens in order to reduce the risk of skin cancer and melanoma. Unfortunately, such messages do not mention that these risks are counterbalanced to a substantial degree by the advantages of producing vitamin D from solar UVB irradiance. Insufficient UVB irradiance and vitamin D costs society about 10 times what excess solar UVB does, and excess UVB irradiance is not required for optimal vitamin D production." Cedric Garland said "vitamin D in the appropriate dose is giving society new hope in the fight to prevent cancer." [Bold emphasis added]

(Source: Newswise)

For more benefits of natural, healing sunlight, read my article "SAD or Depressed? Antidepressants Are Out, Sunlight Is In!"


Geraldine said...

That's some interesting facts as to the why's of how we avoided skin cancer, when we were growing up. I remember well, days of baking in the sun, JJ Baby Oil slathered on to 'seal in the tan' and I know of NO ONE from that time either, who ended up with skin cancer.

Another great post M, thanks!

Rob said...

What an interesting subject. I think that the intensity of the sun is greater now than in my childhood. I do however wholeheartedly agree that diet (and lifestyle) play a major part in health and so am not surprised about the links you have shown.
Thanks - and keep it coming.
Best wishes

Michelle said...

Hi Geraldine,

Oh, yes.....the baby oil! LOL That may not have been the best thing to do, either, but it was probably safer than some of the products on today's market.

Hi Rob,

Thank you! Nutirents play such a critical role, and scientists are discovering that nutritional supplements are not absorbed nor used by the body the same way nutriens from foods are absorbed and utelized.

Mother Nature still knows best. :-)