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The Sun Scare and Vitamin D Deficiency

Updated on September 27, 2018
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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.

Source

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 Bones.com 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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