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How to Slash Your Risk of 17 Kinds of Cancer

For years, everyone’s warned you about the sun. They spin tales of fried skin, growing old before your time and horrible cancers. The sun, they say, is your worst enemy.

But this is junk science at its worst. You need sunlight for good health. More than 200 studies prove that avoiding sunlight is one of the biggest medical mistakes of the last half-century.

Here are just a few of the ways sunshine can improve the quality of your life…

  • Sunshine promotes stronger bones. So you can enjoy all your favorite activities – even into your 90’s or beyond.
  • Stop worrying so much about sniffles, sore throats and other seasonal complaints. Sunshine helps strengthen your immune system.
  • A healthy heart helps you stay active. Getting more sun can lower your risk of heart disease.
  • Plus, sun exposure can help cut your risk of 17 kinds of cancer.

So, how does sunshine do all this for you?

How Sunshine Works Its Magic

Sunshine’s secret is vitamin D. For most of human history, sunlight has been our major source of this critical vitamin. And vitamin D is so important that nearly every cell in your body has vitamin D receptors.

For example, your body needs vitamin D to protect itself from invading microbes. Vitamin D helps regulate normal cell growth. And without vitamin D, your body can’t absorb calcium, leaving your bones weak and brittle.

Vitamin D also promotes immune health, improves insulin sensitivity1 and boosts overall lung function.2

Without enough vitamin D, you’re more likely to be weak, sickly… and stooped over from unhealthy bones.

And on top of all this, research shows sun exposure could help cut your risk of 17 deadly cancers. The proof is strongest for 3 of the worst cancers:

  • Breast cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Ovarian cancer

But there’s solid evidence for bladder, uterine and pancreatic cancers… cancer of the esophagus… stomach and rectal cancer… plus 8 other varieties – including prostate cancer.

Here’s how it works…

Vitamin D and Cancer

Studies show that vitamin D plays a role in discouraging cancer growth 7 different ways.

  • It converts tumor cells into normal cells.
  • It keeps cancer cells from multiplying and triggers apoptosis – also known as “programmed cell death” – in cancer cells.
  • Vitamin D inhibits the spread of cancers.
  • It suppresses the genes that cause cancer cells to proliferate.
  • It inhibits the development of blood vessels in tumors – literally starving them.
  • Vitamin D modulates your body’s immune response – including cancer.
  • It increases the ability of your blood to carry oxygen to healthy cells.

By now, you may be asking yourself, “If sunshine helps prevent cancer, why do I hear so much about sun exposure causing it?”

That’s a good point. Let me respond by asking a couple of other questions. Questions many “experts” have overlooked.

Beating the Cancer Myth

  • If sunlight is their major cause, why are skin cancers less common among people who live and work at high altitudes – like the Hunzas and Vilcabambas – where the sun is more intense?
  • Over the last 30 years, our use of sunscreen and avoidance of sun exposure have dramatically increased. If sunlight is the major cause of skin cancers, why have skin cancer rates risen over those years, instead of falling?

The truth is, the two most common forms of skin cancer – accounting for about 95% of all cases – are most often linked to sunburn, not just sun exposure.3,4

That may explain why the Hunzas and Vilcabambas near the equator work outside under intense sun, but rarely suffer from skin cancer.

The key is responsible exposure.

Today, almost our whole lives are lived indoors. Most jobs are indoor jobs, too. Even much of our recreation keeps us inside. So when people get out for a day in the sun, their skin isn’t prepared.

If you haven’t been getting a lot of sun, increase your exposure gradually. And don’t stay out in the sun long enough to burn. Gradual exposure will result in a tan – your body’s natural protection from sunburn.

Getting the Most Out of the Sun’s Protection

It doesn’t take a lot of sun exposure to make the vitamin D you need. Just 15 – 20 minutes of summer sun on your face and arms each day is enough for light-skinned people.

People with darker skin need more exposure (up to 10 times more). That’s because melatonin – your skin’s protective pigment – blocks some of the light needed to make vitamin D. And the darker your skin, the more melatonin is present.

If you live north of Atlanta, Georgia, the winter sun is too weak to trigger vitamin D production. So taking a vitamin D supplement is a good idea in the winter. Vitamin D3 – the natural form of vitamin D – is best.

The truth is, you don’t have to be afraid of the sun. Just the opposite. Getting responsible exposure to the sun is one of the healthiest things you can do for your body.

To Your Good Health,

Dr. Sears' signature

Al Sears, MD

1 Mason, R.S., et al, “Vitamin D: the light side of sunshine,” Eur J Clin Nutr. Jul 6, 2011;doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2011.105. [Epub ahead of print]

2 Berry, D.J., et al, “Vitamin D status has a linear association with seasonal infections and lung function in British adults,” Br J Nutr. Jun 6, 2011;1-8. [Epub ahead of print]

3 Van Dam R., et al, “Risk Factors for Basal Cell Carcinoma of the Skin in Men: Results from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study,” American Journal of Epidemiology 1999;50(5):459-460.

4 “Skin cancer: Who gets and causes,” American Academy of Dermatology 2011.

Additional source: Sears, Al and Herring, Jon (2007) Your Best Health Under the Sun. Wellington, FL. Wellness Research & Consulting, Inc.