Vitamin D Can Help Prevent Cancer

vt-article-2.jpgIf vitamin D helps prevent cancer, and the body synthesizes vitamin D through sun exposure, shouldn’t we be spending more time in the sun without sunscreen?

When we were younger, we spent long days in the sun and no one ever mentioned the possibility of skin cancer. We used sunscreen only to avoid the pain of sunburn or to get a gradual tan instead of peeling. Then the big C reared its ugly head and our long-time friend, the sun, was suddenly the enemy. But there are things about the sun/cancer relationship that just don’t make sense. For example, vitamin D prevents the formation of tumors — cancer — and unless we take vitamin D supplements, the sun is our only source. Is the sun/cancer relationship a fallacy?

Fortunately, we’re not the only people asking that question: Mayo Clinic researchers recently conducted a study to find out what’s really behind the increase in skin cancer over the last two decades. Although they didn’t find the answer to that question, they did conclude that exposure to the sun may actually be of more benefit than harm.

So Why Is There More Skin Cancer?

The research team made several suggestions:

  • As the increase in skin cancer is coincident with an increase in the number of biopsies done on suspect tissue, it is possible that the incidence of skin cancer is actually the same as it was years ago. We just didn’t know it.
  • Also coincident with the skin cancer increase was increased exposure to other types of UV rays — tanning beds and sunlamps, for example.
  • It is also possible that the sunscreens we’ve being relying on to prevent skin cancer are actually causing the problem. This is currently under investigation.

While getting burned is not a good idea — whether from the sun or any other source — Vitamin D has proven to significantly lower the risk factor by as much as 60% for about sixteen different types of cancer. It is also known to be beneficial for osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis.

What Can You Do?

Avoid getting burned by covering up, stay out of the midday sun, and use a natural sunscreen that doesn’t contain as many harmful chemicals as the name brands. Take vitamin D supplements to make sure you are really protected. And if you really want a tanned look without spending time in the sun, consider using a sunless tanning lotion as an alternative to sunlamps or tanning beds.

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