Last year, I reported on the incompetent way the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) handed the "Ebola crisis" here in the U.S. Now the latest fiasco comes in a recent CDC press release.
According to CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, "Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, and it's on the rise." So far, so good. The facts support this statement. But then Dr. Frieden goes on to give us the same ridiculous melanoma-is-caused-by-the-sun mantra we've been hearing for decades. "Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat and clothes that cover your skin. Find some shade if you're outside, especially in the middle of the day when the dangerous rays from the sun are most intense, and apply broad-spectrum sunscreen." Why is this mantra so ridiculous?
Here are four reasons why the sun does not cause melanoma. And one reason why lack of sun exposure may be the real cause.
First, is the fact that many cases of melanoma happen in parts of the body that get little to no sunlight. Last year, I saw four cases of melanoma. One was in an area that gets exposed to the sun. The other three, one on the bottom of a foot, one in the groin, and one in the intestine, had virtually no exposure to the sun – ever. If sunlight exposure causes melanoma, it obviously should happen only in areas of the body that get regular sunlight exposure. But clearly that's not the case. These non-solar exposed cases are not rare. They happen all the time.
Next is the fact that people are much more aware of the potential dangers of overexposure to sunlight now than they were 30 years ago. The use of sunscreen and covering up that Dr. Frieden mentioned has gone up dramatically. But in these same 30 years, when the population has been doing so much to limit sunlight exposure, the CDC admits that the incidence of melanoma has doubled. This is hardly the effect you would expect if sunlight really caused melanoma.
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Third, there are skin cancers that really are caused by sunlight. They are called basal cell cancers. And, as predicted, because of the many precautions that people are taking to avoid sunlight overexposure, the incidence of basal cell cancer has gone down significantly. But if melanoma really was caused by sunlight, it would have gone down at the same rate that basal cell cancers have decreased. But instead of decreasing, it has doubled.
But there's a fourth and extremely convincing proof to show that sunlight does not cause melanoma. It has to do with several studies that have compared the risk of melanoma between people who work outside versus people who work indoors. These studies have universally shown that melanoma cases have been increasing in people who work indoors significantly more than those who work outside in the sun. If sunlight caused melanoma then the opposite should be the case. But this last statistic could actually explain what might really be causing the increase in melanoma. And it will probably surprise you. The reason people who work indoors get melanoma more often than those working in the sun might be that sunlight exposure actually prevents melanoma instead of causing it. What evidence is there for this?
Think about it. Besides causing sunburn (if you get too much all at once), what does sunlight induce? Vitamin D. And it induces it in the skin. The very place that melanoma occurs. When you get exposed to sunlight and increase your vitamin D levels, they are increased in all the parts of your skin, even those that don't see the sun. But when you pile on sunscreen and avoid the sun like so many doctors have been telling you to do, what happens to your vitamin D levels? They go down! And wait until you hear this.
The National Cancer Institute published a review article on sunlight and cancer entitled, "Sunlight and reduced risk of cancer: is the real story vitamin D?" In the article, the authors show that there's substantial evidence that the more sunlight you get exposed to, the less likely you are to die from melanoma. And get this. This is true not only for people who get a healthy amount of sunlight. It is also true even for those who get so much sunlight that it damages their skin!
What does all this seem to indicate? It shows that not only does sunlight exposure not cause melanoma, it actually protects us against the disease by increasing vitamin D production.
By the way, although the melanoma rates have doubled in the past 30 years, the chances of getting it are still very low – less than 3 in 10,000 according to the CDC. Nonetheless, it makes sense to do whatever you can to avoid it. So let me suggest this. Get as much sunlight exposure as you can without getting sunburned. Make sure you take enough vitamin D3 to get your blood levels up to 50-70 ng/ml. And take an immune boosting supplement, such as my Super Immune QuickStart every day.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
"Rates of new melanomas - deadly skin cancers - have doubled over last three decades," CDC press release, Tuesday, June 2, 2015, 1:00 p.m. ET; http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2015/p0602-melanoma-cancer.html
Egan KM, Sosman JA, Blot WJ. Sunlight and reduced risk of cancer: is the real story vitamin D? J Natl Cancer Inst. 2005 Feb 2;97(3):161-3.