For years, we have been warned that the sun causes skin cancer. This is what I was taught in medical school. In fact, all doctors are indoctrinated in the sunshine is bad story. But some time ago, it occurred to me that the sun as a villain in this story makes zero biological sense. Humans have been in the sun for millions of years. Plants and animals are in the sun. Given that all life needs sunshine to survive, how could the sun be dangerous? How could the sun cause skin cancer?
Let me explain that there are 3 main types of skin cancer: basal cell, squamous cell, and melanoma. The first two kill no one. They represent a visit to the dermatologist for a cosmetic removal of the cancer. Again, they are not malignant and not deadly. Melanoma, on the other hand, is deadly to around 5,000 people per year. Overall, your risk of dying from melanoma is low, certainly compared to heart disease or other cancers.
We know from the literature that melanoma has very little to do with the sun. People with frequent sunburn, especially as children, have a higher risk of melanoma. But chronic sun exposure is linked to a lower risk of melanoma in just about every study. This is evidenced by the fact that outdoor workers have a lower melanoma risk (1). If the sun was the cause of melanoma, why would this form of cancer occur between the toes, in the mouth, and in other areas that are not sun exposed?
Melanoma, like all cancers and diseases, is linked to poor nutrition and environmental pollutants. More and more research is produced regarding actual causation of melanoma.
Melanoma is clearly linked to sugar intake. A recently published study found that glycemic load was linked to a 240% higher risk of melanoma in women (2). Foods with the highest glycemic load include: refined grains (such as bread, bagels, and pasta), sugar-sweetened beverages, and dried fruit.
Further evidence of sugar as the culprit includes the fact that diabetics have a 15% higher risk than non-diabetics, per a meta-analysis of 11 studies (3). When you have diabetes, your risk of cancer, dementia, and heart disease are higher. Elevated blood sugar causes damage to cellular proteins. If the proteins that regulate cancer gene expression are damaged, the final outcome is obvious.
Insulin resistance increases the risk of melanoma (4). Obese people have a higher risk of insulin resistance. In short, if insulin is not able to do its job, poor health will follow. You see, insulin is responsible for energy utilization and storage. If we can’t get energy into the cell, necessary intracellular activities cannot occur. Cancer will flourish.
It is well known that obese people have a higher risk of just about everything. So, it comes as no surprise that obesity is linked to a higher risk of melanoma. In fact, the risk is 26% higher (5).
There are many environmental factors that contribute to melanoma and all cancers. Quite simply, toxins in our world lead to cancer and the obese person is more likely to store and be damaged by these toxins. We can also assume that an obese person has other lifestyle behaviors that are carcinogenic.
Yes, dance in the sun along with walking, jogging, hiking, and biking. Embrace the energy from the sun. Let the solar radiation come in to your eyes and trigger pathways linking the eye to the brain. This sequence leads to melatonin release from the pineal gland, vitamin D production from the skin, and the release of nitric oxide. All of these actions will lead to extraordinary health, and of course, a lower risk of melanoma.
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