Beneficial effects of sun exposure on cancer mortality.

For more than 50 years, there has been documentation in the medical literature suggesting that regular sun exposure is associated with substantial decreases in death rates from certain cancers and a decrease in overall cancer death rates. Recent research suggests that this is a causal relationship that acts through the body's vitamin D metabolic pathways. The studies reviewed here show that (a) sunlight activation is our most effective source of vitamin D; (b) regular sunlight/vitamin D "intake" inhibits growth of breast and colon cancer cells and is associated with substantial decreases in death rates from these cancers; (c) metabolites of vitamin D have induced leukemia and lymphoma cells to differentiate, prolonged survival of leukemic mice, and produced complete and partial clinical responses in lymphoma patients having high vitamin D metabolite receptor levels in tumor tissue; (d) sunlight has a paradoxical relationship with melanoma, in that severe sunburning initiates melanoma whereas long-term regular sun exposure inhibits melanoma; (e) frequent regular sun exposure acts to cause cancers that have a 0.3% death rate with 2,000 U.S. fatalities per year and acts to prevent cancers that have death rates from 20-65% with 138,000 U.S. fatalities per year; (f) there is support in the medical literature to suggest that the 17% increase in breast cancer incidence during the 1991-1992 year may be the result of the past decade of pervasive anti-sun advisories from respected authorities, coinciding with effective sunscreen availability; and (g) trends in the epidemiological literature suggest that approximately 30,000 U.S. cancer deaths yearly would be averted by the widespread public adoption of regular, moderate sunning.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
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Author: Ainsleigh HG
Publication: Preventive Medicine
Year: 1993
Month: Jan
Issue: Vol. 22 (1)
Pages: 132-40