While dermatologists and sunscreen manufacturers have made it their mission to convince the world that sun exposure causes cancer, this is all a big lie. Sunlight is not the primary cause of skin cancer. As a matter of fact, sunlight actually prevents cancer!
Significant evidence shows that vitamin D (which is produced from the sun’s rays), is protective of many cancers. This includes the deadliest of skin cancers – melanoma. In addition to melanoma, there are at least 13 other cancers that seem to be positively affected by sunlight. Most notably are breast cancer, colon cancer, and ovarian cancer.
Sun exposure does NOT cause cancer
While melanoma accounts for less than 2% of skin cancer cases, it can metastasize to other organs and become very aggressive. However, researchers have found that that sunlight does not cause melanoma.
Dr. Daniel Coit, surgical oncologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, shared his research on melanoma at a 2012 MSKCC Health Education Seminar. Dr. Coit presented some startling evidence and cleared up important myths regarding melanoma.
He surprised the audience when he said that most melanomas are not related to sun exposure, and therefore sunblock or avoiding sun exposure does not prevent melanoma. Dr. Coit explained how melanoma is directly related to family history and called it a disease of gene mutations.
Moreover, a British review done in 2002 also had some interesting findings. Overall the results provided no clear link between sunscreen use and the prevention of melanoma.
How sunlight prevents cancer
On the contrary, numerous studies have shown that sun exposure actually lowers the risk of skin and other cancers.
So, how does sunlight lowers the risk of cancer?
Vitamin D increases cell differentiation, suppresses growth signals, reduces cell proliferation, reduces the effect of IGF-1 (insulin- like growth factors) on cancer progression, and inhibits angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels in tumors).
Therefore, it is more likely that low vitamin D levels account for the rise in skin cancer incidences. In fact, many studies show that low vitamin D status may actually contribute to the development of cancers of the skin, breast, colon, ovaries, and others.
Is sunscreen the answer?
Sunscreen use has increased dramatically in the past 50 years. According to the CDC, at least 61% of American adults protect themselves from the sun, and that this reflects a substantial increase over the years. Back in the early 1970’s, sales of sunscreen were around $18 million. By some estimates, this has now grown to almost $400 million annually.
Yet, studies do not inclusively support the efficacy of sunscreen to prevent cancer, including melanoma. If sunscreen really did prevent skin cancer, we would have seen a rapid decline in rates. Instead, incidences of skin cancer have been rising.
How sunscreen causes cancer
In addition to blocking vitamin D production, sunscreen also directly contributes to cancer. When people wear high-protection sunscreen, they tend to stay in the sun too long. By doing so they expose themselves to excessive radiation, and possibly sunburn or sun poisoning.
It is claimed that too much ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or sunbeds can damage DNA in skin cells. The effects of the sun’s rays advance through the action of the free radicals produced in the skin. If enough DNA damage builds up over time, it can cause cells to start growing out of control, which can lead to skin cancer.
The cancer risk from chemical sunscreens
And don’t overlook the added cancer risk from chemical sunscreens themselves. Chemicals found in many sunscreens are toxic endocrine disruptors and damage the heart and liver.
Sunscreen soaks into the skin and enters the bloodstream. A single application can last for up to two days, and as it is absorbed through the skin it bypasses the liver for detoxification.
Chemical sunscreens function by absorbing UV light. As a result, they form DNA-damaging free radicals. In a study done by the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority, research showed that the reaction between Octyl methoxycinnamate (OMC) and sunlight was twice as toxic as the chemical on its own. OMC is present in 90% of sunscreen brands!