Don't Blame the Sun for Rising Melanoma Rates
By Robert Rowen, MD.
Melanoma rates are rising. Melanoma is the deadly form of skin cancer. Pundits blame the sun. But, are rates really rising, and is outdoor sun exposure to blame? I don’t think so.
New research finds that doctors are calling early lesions in the skin stage-1 disease. But many of these are totally benign lesions. Diagnostic criteria have shifted over the years, making it easier to call a benign lesion as a cancer. So pathologists or dermatologists are falsely upping the statistics by calling otherwise benign stage-1 lesions melanoma.
But there is one statistic that should concern you. Melanoma rates are skyrocketing in indoor workers. They get only about 10% of the solar radiation outdoor workers get, yet their risk has been steadily escalating. There’s a plausible theory.
There are two bands we're concerned with when it comes to these processes. Researchers say UV-A is less damaging since it carries less energy than UV-B. However, it penetrates glass (windows) and penetrates your skin more deeply than UV-B. So it can contribute to more aging than UV-B - even through windows. UV-B, on the other hand, while also damaging to skin in excess, also makes vitamin D in your skin. The vitamin D made by the UV-B has a killing effect on melanoma cells. And, UV-A breaks down vitamin D made by UV-B. So overexposure to UV-A and insufficient exposure to UV-B may be what’s fueling the melanoma rise.
Direct sunlight, made by the Creator, provides the balance our bodies need. He didn’t make any animal to be indoors, humans included. Hence, I can see the sun only as healthy. But do respect it. Especially in summer at high noon (10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. standard time) and even more so when there is reflective glare, like at the seashore.
As you may know, I trekked the arduous John Muir Trail in September 2011. The average elevation was 10,000 feet. I wore head protection, but I did get scorched on my arms. I carried sunscreen, but experimented with not using it to see how my diet would affect the intense rays.
My take on what happened is this. I did get burned, but very mildly. There was scant peeling, though my skin definitely showed sun “overexposure.” I recovered rapidly after descending. It’s now months later and I see no additional aging signs in my skin. It fully returned to baseline. Again, I credit my diet.
I’ve reported previously that the wondrous flavonoids found in fruits and veggies protect your skin. If you don’t eat enough, make sure you supplement with a formula, which is full of fruits, veggies, and other protective nutrients.
British Journal of Dermatology PMID:19519827, September 2009; 161(3): 630-634.
Author Robert Rowen is a pioneer in health care, having received his medical degree from University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine.
Article reviewed by Jason Jensen, NMD.
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