Volume 5, Issue 44 November 1, 2012
Stop skin damage from the sun
with a vitamin, not sunscreens
I just saw a patient the other day that has a serious history of skin cancer. When I asked her how her day was going, she said, “I just came from my monthly visit to my dermatologist to have my skin cancers removed. I get them all the time.” Sure enough, she had a two-inch incision on her neck to prove it. Then she went on to say that this was something that happened almost every month.

She had that good old type-1 skin that is so sensitive to sunlight-induced skin cancers. Her doctor had been telling her that the only way to prevent them was to use sunscreen every day, but that didn’t seem to be working at all. Fortunately, there’s a much better way to prevent skin cancers. And a new study proves it.

Researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia were looking at the effects of damaging doses of ultraviolet radiation on the skin. This is the same kind of UV radiation that you would get from an excessive exposure of sunlight. They found out that one of the effects of too much UV is the creation of damaged DNA molecules called CPDs. According to these scientists, CPDs are “highly” inducive of cancer. At the same time, they suppress the immune system in the skin. But that’s not all they found.

They also noted that the same UV rays that produce CPDs also produce vitamin D. And then they discovered that the vitamin D that they produce was able to protect the skin from the cancer-causing effects of CPDs.

To do this they used mice that were similar to my patient. They had genetically bred them to have skin that is especially susceptible to sunlight-induced cancers. Then they gave the mice vitamin D supplements. They found that the vitamin D supplements were “effective inhibitors of UV damage” in these mice, and that they “significantly reduced UV-induced CPDs and immunosuppression.” The supplements also “inhibited skin-tumor development,” including “squamous cell carcinomas, in these mice.”

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The researchers concluded that, “The observed reduction of these UV-induced effects by vitamin D3 suggests a role for these compounds in prevention against skin carcinogenesis.”

Now here are a few thoughts on this study. First of all, my patient’s vitamin D blood level was low – 37 ng/ml. In order to have maximum anti-cancer protection from vitamin D, you must have blood levels up around 70 ng/ml.

Next, why were her blood levels so low? Maybe it was from the sunscreen that she was continually using. Ironically, since sunscreen blocks out the UV rays that stimulate skin cells to produce vitamin D, it is one of the major causes of low vitamin D levels. Is it possible that her use of sunscreen was actually contributing to her tendency to develop skin cancers by lowering her vitamin D levels? I think it’s possible.

Ever since sunscreens came on the market, the incidence of skin cancers has skyrocketed. And there’s an almost one-to-one relationship between the rising use of sunscreens and the increasing rate of skin cancers. This statistical relationship doesn’t really prove anything. But given the results of this study, it certainly makes you wonder.

I’m like my patient and these mice. I have type-1 skin. So I use a completely natural zinc oxide-based sunscreen when I am on my boat or my bike. But I also take enough vitamin D to bring my level up to 70 ng/ml. In my case, and in the case of many people, this often means taking 10,000-15,000 units of vitamin D3 per day. If your skin isn’t this sensitive, then 5,000 IU daily might be enough. You can order a high-quality vitamin D3 supplement in 5,000 IU tablets by following this link.

Finding your Real Cures,

Frank Shallenberger, MD

P.S. A portion of sales in October has been donated to the American Red Cross to help with relief from Hurricane Sandy.  Please join us in helping those in need.  http://www.redcross.org/charitable-donations

REF: Dixon KM, Norman AW, Sequeira, et al. 1α,25(OH)?-vitamin D and a nongenomic vitamin D analogue inhibit ultraviolet radiation-induced skin carcinogenesis. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2011 Sep;4(9):1485-94. Epub 2011 Jul 6.

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