The Boulder’s school year finally ended on Thursday and I proudly attended my oldest daughter’s Eighth Grade “Graduation” ceremony. Everyone tells me the next four years are going to fly by with her in high school and I’m sure they are right because every year seems to fly by! My youngest will be in her last year of elementary school next year and that seems hard to believe, too. Thank goodness I’m not getting any older!
For at least 15 years I have been telling patients to get their sunlight everyday because ultraviolet light is a nutrient for the body. When the sun touches your skin it produces vitamin D and when the light passes through your eyes it stimulates the pineal and pituitary glands. Most patients look at me like I’m crazy when I say these things because we have all been indoctrinated by the media and the medical profession with a fear of the sun; skin cancer, cataracts, etc. A few years ago I wrote an extensive newsletter about sunscreen so I won’t repeat all that here. You can read that article on our web site under “Info Letters” and click on “Sun”.
Must be True Because I Read it in the Newspaper
Well recently, the mainstream media is starting to agree with me which is really scary! There have been several reports about the benefits of letting sun touch your skin so that you can get the Vitamin D production which helps not only bone strength but is a great cancer fighter as well. USA Today had an article that said sunlight can save 30 deaths from cancer for every one case of skin cancer gotten from the sun. (http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-05-21-doctors-sunshine-good_x.htm). This statement was made by Dr. Edward Giovannucci, a Harvard University professor of medicine and nutrition. The article goes on to say, "I would challenge anyone to find an area or nutrient or any factor that has such consistent anti-cancer benefits as vitamin D," Giovannucci told the cancer scientists. "The data are really quite remarkable." The talk so impressed the American Cancer Society's chief epidemiologist, Dr. Michael Thun, that the society is reviewing its sun protection guidelines. "There is now intriguing evidence that vitamin D may have a role in the prevention as well as treatment of certain cancers," Thun said.
On the June 6 “Morning Edition” they reported on Dr. Giovannucci’s speech to the American Cancer Society. By the end of the report they brought on the experts to dismiss the whole notion and told people that ultraviolet light was a known carcinogen and should be avoided (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4681956). Feel confused? You should because the experts are also confused. It is pretty tough for the “avoid the sun at all cost” experts to have to back down after all these years. Twenty minutes in the sun with no sunscreen helps your body produce 20,000 I.U.s of vitamin D-3 which is the form used by the body. Salmon has about 360 IUs, sardines 500 IUs and a can of tuna about 230 IUs of vitamin D. These fish have some of the highest levels of vitamin D that can be found in food but you can see there is no comparison to getting your dose of sun.
What’s a Mother to do?
Remember that line from an old commercial? Well I hear it a lot and it is a good question. Sunlight, water, oxygen, food, love, exercise, bed rest, sex, drugs and Rock N Roll can all kill you in large enough quantities. It is about moderation and using your head. The key is to not get a burn. Gradual tanning is a great natural sunscreen. Many chemical sunscreens do not block the deep UVA rays that may cause cancer. The SPF rating is only for the UVB rays so you have to read the bottle carefully to see if it also blocks UVA. If you are going to be out in the sun and you can’t wear long sleeve cotton shirts and pants, then I recommend using the sun block zinc oxide. It will block the rays and protect you from all the UV rays. The deadly melanoma skin cancer is believed to be from severe sunburns received as a child so children need to be watched closely for too much sun exposure. Yet, many of the sites where melanoma develops are in places that get little or no sun at all. Most of what we know about the connection between sun exposure and skin cancer are still theories. Many nutritional researchers feel that the cancer develops due to a lack of proper nutrition in the body making it unable to deal with the free radicals produced by a sunburn. Dr.’s Joseph Mercola and William Campbell Douglass have written numerous articles about the health benefits of a good tan.
These were the words heard by Michael Holick, M.D but they weren’t being said by Donald Trump on “The Apprentice”. Dr. Michael F. Holick, a professor at Boston University's medical school and a well-known researcher on the topic of sunlight and vitamin D, was asked to resign from his position in the dermatology department after the chairwoman of the department criticized his conclusions in a book he wrote called UV Advantage. He is still with the school but Holick believes he is "being punished for challenging one of the dogmas of dermatology." So you can see it’s not really safe for these guys to speak up even when they know the truth.
You need 15-30 minutes of sun on your skin at least 3-4 times a week without sunscreen to get enough vitamin D in your body. An additional 30-45 minutes (60 minutes total) of being outside with no sunglasses or contacts to help stimulate your pineal and pituitary glands. Don’t bake in the sun for hours even with sunscreen on. Slowly get a tan that will protect you from sunburn and cover up your skin with light cotton clothing when you’ve had your limit of sun. And if you can’t avoid the sun, use zinc oxide as a sun block.
We did make the move on time and my staff worked hard to get things set up for business as usual on Tuesday May 31st. Thanks for all your nice compliments on the new office; we really enjoy it, too. If you aren’t sure where the new office is just go on the web site at www.drcraigreese.com and the directions are there. I will be taking my kids on a mini vacation next weekend so I won’t be in the office on Monday June 20 and Tuesday June 21. No long trips are planned at this time for the summer but I may be gone for a long weekend here and there. We will be closed Monday July 4 for the holiday. Have a great summer!