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The Sun Scare and Vitamin D Deficiency

Updated on September 27, 2018
Rosie writes profile image

Rosie is a library media specialist. An avid reader and life-long learner, Rosie enjoys sharing her knowledge and expertise in many areas.

The Skin Cancer Diagnosis

You probably know someone who has been diagnosed with skin cancer. In the past several years, I could name several people who have been diagnosed with skin cancer and have had the spots removed promptly as directed by the dermatologist they were seeing. Things seem to have changed since a decade ago. Years ago, I could say that I knew no one who had been diagnosed with skin cancer. So what has changed? I did some research and here are some facts I have found on the matter.


Do you stay in the sun longer when you use a sunscreen?

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Vitamin D and Sunscreen

The most popular arguments are that doctors are able to better detect skin cancer, and that the current generation of baby boomers has spent a larger amount of time in the sun. After digging deeper, I've found a couple of less popular arguments (that would probably not be profitable to anyone in particular). One is that many sunscreens have cancer causing chemicals. Are they FDA approved? And if they are, to what extent are they deemed safe? According to Dr. Loren Pickett, "Worldwide, the greatest rise in melanoma has been experienced in countries where chemical sunscreens have been heavily promoted. The rise in melanoma has been exceptionally high in Queensland, Australia where the medical establishment has vigorously promoted the use of sunscreens." To learn more about the dangers of sunscreens, visit Oz Investigates: Is Your Sunscreen Poisonous?

Another less popular argument is that Vitamin D deficiency can cause cancer. According to WebMD, Vitamin D deficiency causes increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment in older adults, severe asthma in children, and cancer.

According to the EWG Skin Deep site, "As it stands, many experts agree that there’s no solid proof that sunscreens protect against skin cancer". According to them, sunscreens protect us from skin burning UVB rays but not from the UVA rays which penetrate the skin more deeply and cause skin cancer. As a result, people using high SPFs may falsely think they are protected from getting skin cancer when they use a sunscreen and may also stay in the sun longer due to this belief.

Gweneth Paltrow Suffered a Severe Vitamin D Deficiency After Years of Shielding Herself from the Sun

For years, Gweneth Paltrow avoided the sun completely and was very surprised at the outcome. After suffering a severe bone fracture, requiring surgery, she was diagnosed with the beginning stages of osteopenia, directly related to her lack of Vitamin D. Her doctor helped her to reverse her Vitamin D diagnosis through sensible sun exposure.

Dr. Lipman writes: "Numerous studies have shown that optimizing your Vitamin D levels may actually help prevent as many as 16 different types of cancer including pancreatic, lung, breast, ovarian, prostate, and colon cancers. And the best way to optimize Vitamin D levels is through safe, smart and limited sunscreen-free exposure to the sun," according to Aces ShowBiz. Visit Save Our to read about Gweneth Paltrow's experience.

Did You Know?

The "sun scare" has led to an enormous profit for SPF product manufacturers, and of course, dermatologists. Their offices are full. A co-worker of mine was recently "diagnosed" with skin cancer and has begun treatment; I was very surprised when she said that the dermatologist made the diagnosis by looking at her with no testing done. She is a single mother and was complaining about the expense since every time she goes to her dermatologist, there is a $40 copay, and the treatment prescribed requires her to have multiple visits.

According to the IDIS World Market Research "The Dermatologists industry .... projects industry revenue to grow at an average annual rate of 5.3% to an estimated $44.1 billion in 2016."

Skin cancer appears to be on the rise and Vitamin D deficiency too. Now with the fear of skin cancer, people are completely avoiding the sun, becoming Vitamin D deficient, and using literally tons of sunscreen. What ramifications will these habits have on our health in the future?

Did you know the following?

  • The majority of people diagnosed with melanoma are white men over age 50.
  • Caucasian men over age 65 have had an 8.8 percent annual increase in melanoma incidence since 2003, the highest annual increase of any gender or age group.
  • In adults 65 or older, melanoma treatment costs total about $249 million annually.
  • In 2004, the total direct cost associated with the treatment for nonmelanoma skin cancer was $1.5 billion.

~ Facts from the Skin Cancer Foundation

A Decade From Now

What will the latest generation of baby boomers bring to the table a decade from now? The school of thought we hear about the most, is to cover yourself and expose your skin to the sun as little as possible, however, according to WebMD, we should do just the opposite to ensure we get the proper amount of Vitamin D, "Treatment for vitamin D deficiency involves getting more vitamin D -- through diet, supplements and/or through spending more time in the sun."

Personal Note: Perhaps the best solution to prevention is moderation, similarly to coffee, chocolate, and alcohol. While I do use sunscreen, I now only use it when I am at risk of burning and I use the spray, as not as much is required for coverage. 

This hub is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians. The reader should regularly consult a physician in matters relating to his/her health and particularly with respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.


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    • Rosie writes profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Surma 

      7 years ago from Virginia

      Chuck thanks so much for your comment! I keep reading articles about this issue on both sides. The "sun scare" ones tend to run in fun-to-read magazines, while the scientifically and research-based ones run in magazines such as the ones you have referred to. Most recently, I read how it is believed that many people are vitamin D deficient because of the overuse of sunscreen. Thanks again for your expert opinion.

    • Chuck Bluestein profile image

      Chuck Bluestein 

      7 years ago from Morristown, AZ, USA

      Very informative article. I am supposed to be an expert on this subject but did not know about Gwenneth Paltrow. I like to start vitamin D articles with the disease that vitamin D cured! In the late 1800s most children in Europe and North America had this disease. The doctors told parents to have their children in the sunlight more.

      In 1922 they were researching a terrible bone disease called rickets (referred to above) and discovered the cure for it-- vitamin D. Or you could say that the disease is caused by a lack of vitamin D. Millions of people died of scurvy. Vitamin C was the cure for scurvy.

      Since the body cannot create a vitamin (by definition) and the body creates vitamin D from sunlight, vitamin D is actually a neurosteroid hormone. Psychology Today has an article called Vitamin D Deficiency and Depression. It says that the reason the rates of depression are rising is due to sunscreen.

      The highest paid model in the world is Gisele Bündchen. She is smarter than Paltrow and could probably beat her up. She does yoga, kung fu and meditation. She does not use sunscreen and she calls it a 'poison.'

      Merck created the most popular drug ever. It killed pain. It was recalled since it also killed people-- Vioxx. But what does this have to do with the above? They own Coppertone that sells sunscreen. In the 70s there was no sunscreen. They sold a sun tan lotion that is supposed to make you get a tan but not get sunburn.

      The popular ad for it had a little girl wearing a bikini bottom and no top. The bottom was being pulled down by a dog so her buttocks were showing. It was pale while the rest of her body was tan. Just like sunscreen, it made tens of billions of dollars for people. The main ingredient in it was butter or oil.

      Psychology Today also has an article saying that lack of vitamin D in pregnant mother and baby is the cause of autism. Now wait, isn't autism linked to toxins like cancer is? One of the functions of vitamin D is to help the body get rid of toxins. Although all of this is dependent on one word-- ENOUGH. People need ENOUGH vitamin D to do the above. I gave your article a thumb up and awesome

    • Rosie writes profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Surma 

      8 years ago from Virginia

      Lady Wolfs, thanks for reading and commenting. It seems a balance is necessary with most things in life. Alcohol, vitamins, milk, sugar, even coffee. We try to be healthy, but with so many unknowns, it makes it hard. I will be visiting more of your hubs. You are a thoughtful writer and I thoroughly enjoy reading your work.

    • profile image

      Lady Wolfs 

      8 years ago

      There are so many cases of skin cancer today, most likely causing many to completely avoid the sun. I totally agree some sun is necessary, and vitamin D is important to our health. Balance or moderation really is the key, as it usually is in most habits.

      I also agree that many of the sunscreen products are not safe, and that natural products are the better choice. It seems like anytime there is something to fear, profit will always take priority over other factors. Nice hub, and thank you for sharing this information.

      Voted up and useful!

    • Indian.opeanion profile image


      9 years ago from India

      Nice article

    • oceansnsunsets profile image


      9 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Hi Rosie, I agree with you that there seems to be more people getting skin cancer now more than ever before. While many things could explain that, I found it interesting that you also tied in vitamin D deficiencies. I work in a doctors office, across the hall from a dermatologist. It is very busy all the time and I talk to some of the patients sometimes.

      In our effort to stay out of the sun, we had other issues that crept in. Just like the skin cancer, I have heard more and more about serious vitamin D deficiencies. This is causing problems and on the rise. Thanks for sharing all your information here. I didn't know all of that about Paltrow, very interesting. Knowledge is power in these issues, so glad you shared this. Voted up, useful and awesome.

    • Rosie writes profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Surma 

      9 years ago from Virginia

      Thanks for the comment. In the near future, we will learn more about Vitamin D, as more studies are done. In the meantime, I will take caution not to burn, but enjoy the warmth of the sun - it is a wonderful thing.

    • amason1100 profile image


      9 years ago

      Right on! I agree with your assessment. Vitamin D is essential to living a cancer free life. I also noticed a vast improvement in my overall well being when I stopped working the night shift and was able to sit in the sun for at least part of the day.


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