Here Comes the Sun... Run!

Sun sunshine waves beach natureSince the 1970’s humans have had an increasing fear of the sun.

We’ve been advised to slather on sunscreen, and warned NOT to go out between the hours of 10am and 2pm when the sun’s deadly rays are strongest.

This fear of the sun was born from our rising rates of skin cancer.

Here are some frightening facts about this deadly disease[1]:

  • Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States.
  • More than 3.5 million skin cancers are diagnosed annually.
  • Over the past three decades, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined.
  • One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.

As you can gather from these statistics there is good reason to fear skin cancer.

But, here is something to think about; the rise in skin cancer is NOT necessarily due to exposure to the sun.

For thousands of years humans have worked outside in the fields and fished open waters without sunscreen, and without incidence of skin cancer. What changed in the last century that has made skin cancer so prevalent in our modern society?

One of my clients, a dermatologist, would gasp every time she saw me. My skin is sun-kissed from spending time outdoors in nature without sunscreen.

“Oh Andrea, you have to protect yourself with sunscreen, otherwise you’ll get skin cancer.” I reassured her that I wasn’t worried about getting skin cancer… at least not from the sun.

When I was 18 years old I traveled to Mexico. And, like many 18 year olds I wasn’t very smart. I drank a pitcher of margaritas and fell asleep by the pool. Two hours of baking in the hot sun might have worked well for a tamale but, certainly not for a human being.

I awoke from my drunken slumber to discover I had severe burns along my bikini line. I was literally fried! I went to the doctor and he diagnosed me with second and third degree burns. He prescribed zinc oxide ointment and told me there was nothing that could be done beside letting the skin heal.

Soon after my burn, I developed a thick purplish brown scab below my bra line and between my breasts. That scab was so darn big it took over two weeks to peel off. And, when it finally did, I noticed something odd. In between my breasts was a half-inch red raised raspberry. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but soon noticed that it crusted over with a small scab of it’s own. That small scab would bleed occasionally and then peel off. But, it always returned. It was a “never-healing” scab.

I also noticed that it itched more often than not, and whenever I would go to the beach and expose that little scab to the sun it would itch like crazy! It was the kind of itch that no matter what I did (scratch it, put ice-cubes on it, rub oil on it…), I could not find relief.

With each passing year my never-healing scab changed color, shape and size. It seemed to be growing larger, and wavered between reddish brown, and purplish brown, and the edges were uneven. It was suspicious, for sure.

But, an interesting thing happened when I changed my diet.

After my diagnosis with thyroid disease at 28 years old, I stopped ingesting toxic food: chemical sweeteners, diet soda, sugar, highly refined foods, preservatives, drugs and excessive amounts of alcohol. Within a year I noticed that my never-healing scab began changing once again. It still crusted over, but much less frequently.

By the third or fourth year of eating “clean” the color had changed as well. It was no longer red. It was now tannish brown. And, finally after 10 years, it stopped itching! Whew, that was a relief!

Today, more than twenty years after that burn, it looks like a raised, light brownish colored mole. It doesn’t scab over and it doesn’t itch like crazy.  Although, here’s an interesting little thing I noticed…. if I eat a lot of sugar it does get a little bit itchy.

The sun is an essential source of energy that brings life to all things on the planet. Without it we would surely die. The sun, due to its strong nature, has the ability to draw things up to the surface: the surface of the earth, and the surface of our skin as well.

Intentionally blocking out the sun and using sunscreen may do much more damage than we could imagine. A lack of sunshine has been linked to an increase in ALL cancers across the board: breast, colorectal, lung, skin, pancreatic, ovarian, prostate and others.[2]

Don’t get me wrong, slicking your body with baby oil and frying under the hot sun is NOT a good idea, but exposing yourself to daily sunlight enhances health and the body’s ability to protect itself. The skin produces melanin (a natural form of protection) and vitamin D when exposed, in healthy amounts, to the sun.

Vitamin D, from the sun, increases absorption of calcium and phosphorus, strengthens the bones, reduces symptoms of arthritis, asthma, tuberculosis and MS, and enhances immunity.[3]

The Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that patients suffering from melanoma are more likely to survive if they had a history of sun worshipping.[4] And, according to the National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, “continued high sun exposure is linked with increased survival rates in patients with early-stage melanoma.”[5] There are many more scientific studies that reveal the sun actually protects us from cancer.[6]

But, I don’t need a scientific study to tell me what I intuitively know. We need the sun’s energy to help us thrive and we simply can’t live healthfully without it.

So, before you slather any more sunscreen on your children and the people you love, I would suggest you take your favorite plant and coat it with sunscreen on a daily basis. Tell me what happens.

I want to apologize in advance for killing your plant.


[1] http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/skin-cancer-facts

[2] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/11/20/deadly-melanoma-not-due-vitamin-d-deficiency.aspx

[3] http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/161618.php

[4] Organic Style, July/August, 2005 pp. 67-68

[5] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2290997/

[6] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/06/16/sun-can-protect-you-against-skin-cancer.aspx

Save

  • reginabee

    Thank you Andrea for this wise advice. I hate sunscreen but my hubby who is a melanoma survivor, slathers it all over himself and the kids. Me? I keep that stuff far far away! My daughter is a sun worshiper, so I tell her to not overdo it, but the sun is our friend! We are eating the healthiest ever and that really is all there is to it!

  • Heather Solimine

    Love this post! I agree completely!

  • AnnF

    Thanks for posting this. My friends freak when they find out I don’t slather on that stuff! I don’t even put it on my kids anymore, especially after my oldest developed an allergy to it when he was 3. We eat well and start out gradually exposing ourselves.

  • Jennifer

    Wonderful article & I totally agree! I think commercial brand sunscreens cause skin cancer too! They are full of toxic ingredients.

  • Marina

    Yeah! Great punchline!

  • luminouswellness

    Love this post! My mom says the same exact thing as you did in this article – people in Egypt & Africa are in the sun all the time. If the sun supposedly causes cancer, how come they don’t get it?! The sun is life and makes our food grow! Great ending with suggesting that we slather sunscreen on a plant! 🙂

    • Natural Neda

      I agree, I am from the middle east. The difference between the cultures is that we also wore long sleeve clothes when out during the hot summer months. The fabrics we wore were very light but protective so we did not burn. We also barely had access to processed foods, those were not available.

  • Deborah

    Again, awesome. My daughter @ 40 got melanoma on her back. They had to dig deep to get it all out. Ugly pics. So, she thinks she needs sunscreen, junk you buy at Walmart to put on her. I keep telling her don’t do that. I’m sending this to her and hopefully she reconsiders. I’m a redhead and need to go out more often, but rely on D3, I’ll make changes. In Texas you have to go out early. Thank you Andrea!

  • Rachel

    I’m a redhead and have incredibly fair skin. I have Hashimoto’s and eat an anti-inflammatory diet specifically for me, according to an IgG food intolerance test. Going out in the sun, even for a short amount of time, can burn me, and depending upon the duration, it can be very painful. I use an organic sunscreen with a rating of 1 (being the safest on a scale of 1-10 from EWG’s 2013 guide to sunscreens). Should I stop using it? Or maybe just use it when out in the sun for longer periods of time?

  • Brooke

    I love this. The sun is crucial for our lives and creating that lovely, fat soluble vitamin D. I’m sticking to my guns and will continue to not wear sunscreen and go all natural! However, I do know when to cover up. I do use coconut oil sometimes though. I heard this can work as a natural sunscreen. What are your thoughts on this? But, Diet, and Lifestyle are SO key in regard to our body’s ability to repair itself.

    • Lydia

      I use coconut oil (or sesame oil) as well when I know I might be in the sun a litte bit longer (not for hours of course) and it works as a sun screen for me.

      • @5c39d2be2092bdb2626f361f335fe6fb:disqus & @db85a9397ad45abd2bf3612331eb6e71:disqus – that’s great! I haven’t heard of using coconut oil as a sunscreen. It would probably make you smell and taste delicious too. 🙂 Have a fun weekend!

        • Sean

          Ms Beaman, your ignorance astounds me! Using any oil on your skin is essentially cooking it, as you could fry something on a stove. It is unlikely have have ANY protective effect and is more likely to be harmful. You are being incredibly irresponsible with this sort of posting. Please, please stop!

    • @Brooke – I’ve heard of lots of folks that use coconut oil and carrot oil too. I’m going to try it this year.

  • Terri Ingraham

    Love this, Andrea (waving hello!)! We live on a lake so my kids are in the sun all day long, do you suggest using anything on their skin to keep from burning? It’s impossible to cover up if they are swimming or wake-boarding.

  • Carol

    As someone who already agrees with most of your article, I’m a little concerned with you telling people to avoid sunscreen. Covering up is great, but not always an easy option. Those of us who have a higher risk of skin cancer need to look at the big picture. For every research article you find, there is another out there that proves why sunscreen is so important.

  • libby

    real coconut oil feedback for sunscreen
    , andrea? i have heard good things!! tell me more!

  • VCSY

    Where did you get you PhD from? You are really way off base with this posting. Melanoma is more prevalent in people with a fair complexion, blue eyed people with European backgrounds are 2 to 3 times more likely to develop skin cancer over a person with a darker complexion. Your information could lead to people getting sick – do you really want that on your conscience? From the AMA – People of all skin colors, including blacks and Hispanics, should wear sunscreen and avoid excessive sun exposure to reduce their skin-cancer risk.

    That advice comes from the American Medical Association, which included recommendations for preventing skin cancer among communities of color among new policies adopted at its annual meeting in Chicago this week.

    The stance of the physicians’ association reflects the facts that skin-cancer incidence is on the rise among blacks and Hispanics, that skin cancer is more likely deadly for blacks than it is for whites, and that many people with dark skin apparently aren’t aware of their risk for skin cancer.

    According to press materials announcing the new policies, the five-year melanoma survival rate is only 58.8 percent among African Americans, compared to 84.8 percent for Caucasians. The incidence of melanoma among Hispanics has risen to rates comparable to that among whites over the past 15 years, the AMA reports. But Hispanics and African Americans, who may believe that their skin-cancer risk is lower than that of Caucasians, are screened less frequently for skin cancer, the association says.

    Under the new policy, the AMA pledges to “support and encourage efforts to increase awareness of skin cancer risks, skin cancer screening, and sun-protective behaviors in communities of color.” Those behaviors should include wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, staying out of the sun during peak hours, and getting regular skin examinations.

    The American Cancer Society reports that skin cancer is “by far” the most common cancer and that while melanoma accounts for just 5 percent of such cancers, it’s responsible for most skin-cancer deaths.

    • maryfrancis

      the AMA would not be needed if people were not sick, the ACS would not exist if people did not get cancer.. think about it and all the brainwashing going on in school materials funded for and provided by the pharmaceutical industry

      • Leo

        exactly. problems are created to be ‘fixed’ by the ones who caused them…. for just few crippling payments, youll be FREE!

  • Sean

    I posted these comments on Facebook but feel they are worth repeating here:
    Ms Beaman, what you are posting is unhelpful, irresponsible, and potentially dangerous if not deadly. You misunderstand and misinterpret the science. You start your article with a potentially correct assertion that, simply because there is a rise in melanoma does not necessarily mean it is from sun exposure alone. In other words, correlation is not causation. However, you then make this mistake yourself by saying that your diet change got rid of whatever strange thing you had on your chest!
    Remember, you are a sample of one. Your experience cannot be extrapolated any further than you. And I want to emphatically tell you that scientific studies ARE needed to tell you what you apparently intuitively misunderstand! That is because human intuition is often not accurate.
    Yes, the sun is essential for giving us vitamin D, but we can get that other ways as well. If you lived in a sunny climate and were living out in the open air all the time, then yes, you wouldn’t need sunscreen and you likely wouldn’t get melanoma, because your body would be producing natural melanin (a tan) that would protect you. But because you go out in the sun only occasionally and are more likely to burn, you are at much higher risk of melanoma. It is the repeated burning and peeling that causes the damage and the cancer. Melanoma kills and it is well-established that UV exposure from the sun damages skin cells in ways that can lead to melanoma.
    So please be responsible and don’t post this kind of thing. I would hate for someone to take your advice, burn, get this aggressive cancer, and die. I’m sure you wouldn’t want that on your conscience.
    And in case you’re wondering, I have degrees in Microbiology, Biochemistry, Medical Biochemistry, and a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology (my thesis was on factors related to skin cancer).
    And one other thing not considered in your article is that in parts of the world, especially the southern hemisphere including countries like Australia and South Africa, due to the thinning ozone layer more damaging UV light is penetrating the atmosphere than ever before, greatly increasing the chance of severe burns (and the cancers resulting therefrom).
    One final thing: please don’t quote Mercola.com (reference 6) as a scientific source. It is a business trying to sell you products, not a scientific resource. Do a little bit of research into your citations before using them. For instance, this page: http://www.quackwatch.com/11Ind/mercola.html
    And this website might give you some insight into why Mercola might be promoting sunlight as being good for you:http://www.skepdic.com/news/newsletter1106.html

    • HealthCoach1

      Just some healthy food for thought… for you, Sean the Scientist and VCSY: the leading edge in science (quantum science) and biology has demonstrated that what we believe about any given thing is what becomes real in our lives (even in scientific experiments, the observer affects the outcome right down to the subatomic level). You thoroughly believe in your “scientific” training, and most doctors believe in their training (even though it is dictated by the AMA, which is heavily influenced by the Pharmaceutical Industry and the insurance industry (both of which are interdependent on each other for their enormous – almost obscene – profit margins). Got a problem with Dr. Mercola’s information because he is selling products? Look in your own camp: trillions and trillions in drugs and surgery are being peddled by the mainstream allopathic medical cartel.

      Some of us have rid ourselves of beliefs installed by the profiteering “programming” that the media has delivered for decades. “Ask your doctor” is just an advertising slogan that was pushed into law. (Do the research!) And your buddy over at QuackWatch.com ? Do a little more research into Stephen Barrett, M.D.’s malpractice history, and then find out who is funding his sharpshooter website. It’s called “kill the competition.” And it’s being paid for by the same “too big to fail” medical industry giants who likely paid for the “research” that says skin cancer is caused by the sun and cured by expensive toxin-laden sunscreens… just like they paid for full-page four color ads in your doctor’s med school text books. Get a real clue… You get what you believe in! This is well demonstrated in your scientific studies by the “placebo effect”, which would be the real focus of scientific medical inquiry if any of your research funders really cared about helping people get healthy. The only real “scientific fact” of life is: You get what you believe in.

  • Chris

    I’ve used sunscreen for a long while, now. I’m still getting moles and freckles, like crazy. And, NOW, I have to take a vitamin D pill that is so strong, I can take only one per week. Yes…. ONE per WEEK! Not good, at all.

  • Kiel

    Thank you for sharing! Diet changes everything.

  • angelgirlnhb

    I have been torn about sunscreen. But at age 36, I had meligament melanoma, stage 4 in 2008. Had I not pushed my doctor to send me to a dermatologist, I would probably be dead. It was on my chest, just above my breast. If let go longer, it would have eventually attacked breastfeeding tissue, thyroid, and lymph nodes. Not to mention the chemo I would of had to endure on top of horrid scars I would have had to remove such a large growth.

    I grew up blonde, blue eye, and spent all my days in our pool. As a teen, I used baby oil, butter, cooking oil, etc to get a tan. I spent long days at the beach without care or knowledge on how to protect my skin. I burned over burn over burn to finally get tan. I constantly suffered 2nd & 3rd degree sunburns. As an adult, I got wise and limited time in sun and covered up.

    I am scared to death to go thru the skin cancer hell again. The doctors have told me to use sunscreen & limit direct sun between 10-2, especially in the Southern CA summer. I was also then diagnosed a highly vit D deficit since trying to protect myself. But I also was working am indoor day job and rarely saw the sun. I have since been trying to get 10 or so minutes of unprotected sun exposure daily. The rest of the time, I am covered or inside. I hate using sunscreen, so much toxic stuff being put right on my skin to be absorbed and baked in by the sun.

    But to be honest, your article doesn’t help my confusion at all…where is the concrete evidence? For me, it is a choice between life and death.

  • Kristina Rossow

    Unfortunately, for some of us, dumping sunscreen is not an option. I’m so pale that I have what looks like an allergic reaction when the sun hits my skin. I actually talked to a doctor last week about this and while he wasn’t a fan of sunscreen because of the chemicals in it (yes, a medical doctor was actually concerned about chemicals! First time I’ve seen it!) he was MORE concerned about the reaction and how high my chances for melanoma are. Its not unlikely that people were not diagnosed with melanoma many years ago, but I doubt the sole reason is sunscreen use but I’m not dismissing it as a factor. The ozone is getting thinner and people 100 years ago very well may have had it, but no one knew that the funny mole was anything but a funny mole back then.

  • Anj Fabian

    If you want organic sunscreen for plants, I have just the thing!
    http://sprayers101.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Kaolin.jpg

  • IReadit3

    one individuals personal experience and loose unscientific conclusions does not a clinical study make.

  • Rose

    Some sun exposure with SPF is necessary. Perhaps there may be some validity to what you’re saying, but advising people against protecting their skin, with no reputable studies to back up your theory, is not only irresponsible, but extremely ignorant. I sincerely hope you stop posting nonsense like this, unless you have concrete evidence and not a coincidence like your scab that you neglected for years.

  • Sven

    The very basis of this article is a lie. Skin cancer is not most prevalent. Lung cancer is. Therefore everything else you say after that cannot be accountable.

  • Leo

    what did people do a thousand years ago? oh thats right, they werent dying by the millions from cancers whose cure is repressed by profit-seeking companies, organizations or ‘research labs’. obviously humanity is still on the planet. if the sun was so dangerous, humanity would have fallen off the planet without this ‘miracle life saving cream.’

    • JB

      1. Ozone layer was NOT damaged then………
      2. Life expectancy was much shorter
      3. People protected by the clothes they wore… Long sleeves, long pant legs, etc. good grief women did not wear swim wear until the Riviera in France

      Enjoy the sun BUT cover up with protective clothing, your choice of sun protective products, sun glasses and hats. It’s more the damaging rays from the holes in the ozone, the clothes we wear OR don’t and the longer lives we live. DONE

  • Jessi Carson

    I am so confused on what you are saying. You switch from a scab from a severe sunburn finally stopping itching after 10 years unless you eat sugar, to the sun being essential. There is no flow from the first 3/4 of the article to the last 1/4. So what is this scab? Is IT melanoma? Could it be linked to the skin never healing completely because of internal health? — like you said it started changing after you changed your diet. Well of course the body won’t heal when we are full of toxins and bad flora. What does the sun being essential have to do with the 10 years of the scabbed burn? – I know it’s not that I need more coffee to understand this.