Fact or Myth: Sun Causes Skin Cancer?

This is a MYTH.

walkinginsunOver the last couple decades the sun has gotten a lot of bad press. Sun avoidance and sunscreen use have skyrocketed, but what about the rates of melanoma—the most dangerous type of skin cancer responsible for 75% of skin cancer deaths? Have they plummeted with the sun-shunning trend?

Absolutely not! Melanoma rates have actually gone up…an indicator that sun avoidance and slathering on sunblock may actually be working against your health. It’s time to step back into the sun, SPF-free, because several studies have shown that safe sun exposure (no burning allowed) actually helps prevent skin cancer.

According to a study published in the European Journal of Cancer, melanoma (skin cancer) was found to be more prevalent in workers who spent their days inside, and in body parts rarely exposed to the sun. Unless you routinely spend time soaking up sunshine rays to the point of sunburn, skin cancer is highly unlikely…vitamin D deficiency on the other hand could be cause for concern.

The best way to ensure adequate vitamin D levels is to expose your skin to the sun. Vitamin D seeps directly into genes in your skin that help prevent abnormalities caused by ultraviolet light.

Vitamin D helps regulate gene expression in over 3,000 genes and helps prevent at least 16 different types of cancer. One study found that vitamin D3 (the type of vitamin D derived from the sun) reduced cancer risk by as much as 60%! Vitamin D3 promotes the self-destruction of mutated cells that cause cancer, and inhibits the growth and spread of preexisting cancer cells. A daily dose of sun-derived vitamin D3 can also slash your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and age-related macular degeneration that causes blurred vision and blindness.

Practice Safe Sun

The sun cause skin cancer? Sure, if you don’t practice safe sun exposure and allow your skin to burn. Exercise caution. Depending on your skin tone, 10 minutes of sun exposure without sunscreen may be all you need to spur vitamin D production and help protect against melanoma. Know your skin, and the strength of the sun at the latitude in which you live.

Overall, very good news! Who doesn’t like to bask in the sun!