Why Don't I Have Skin Cancer?
By Ray Allard (Tan Plus/Essentials Of Life)
Motivated by the increasing rates of melanoma and non-melanoma (basal cell and squamous cell) cancers make it easy to point a finger at what might appear to be the most obvious culprit, the sun or tanning salons. But, the truth is, there has been an explosion in all chronic diseases over the last 50 years. Rapid increases are occurring, not only in all types of cancer, but AIDS, arthritis, asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, diabetes, heart disease, lupus, M.S., mental illness, allergies, alzheimers, and more.
Is tanning the sole cause of skin cancer or is it a trigger influenced by today's lifestyles?
Growing up in the fifties, I have witnessed what progress has created. Today's version of a home-cooked meal comes out of a microwave oven. Our general daily diet is that of fast, fried foods and sugar (all forms of cancer love sugar). We have replaced water with mega-sized bottles of soft drinks and other high sugared beverages. A strenuous workout for many is pushing the buttons on the t.v. remote or rolling down the car window at the drive-up. Technology has further compounded our already stressful lives with beepers and cell phones. The food we eat has been processed, refined, irradiated, injected with hormones and antibiotics, preserved, and coated with pesticides. And, we have further weakened our immune systems through excessive use of antibiotics and drugs, both prescribed and over-the counter. Antibiotic abuse has deemed them no longer effective in treating many viruses. Have we drifted so far from nature that our bodies are confused and have gone on strike?
I am in my seventies, grew up in Portsmouth (NH), spending the better part of every summer hanging out at Rye and Hampton beaches. I experienced several burning and peeling episodes during my teens and later. I have never in my lifetime used a sunblock or sunscreen or worn a hat, for that matter. For more than 30 years I have owned and/or operated an indoor tanning salon, tanning one or two times every week, year round. Shouldn't I have skin cancer by now?
The medical professions' campaign to lower skin cancer rates, through advocating total avoidance of sun and indoor tanning and continual application of sunscreen, may prove more harmful than beneficial. Current beliefs are based on statistics and predictions, but no credible study to date supports claims that skin cancer is the sole result of sun and/or tanning exposures. To the contrary, many findings seem to indicate that the sun may not be acting alone in the development of some skin cancers and may not even be implicated in others.
Does The Sun Cause Melanoma?
The dramatic increase in melanoma deaths during the last 70 years has been attributed to sunbathing, yet deadly melanoma cancer appears on relatively shaded areas of the body, including the middle of the back, or the inside of the thigh, areas that are covered most of the time. According to Barbara Gilchrest, M.D., dermatology chair at Boston Medical Center (based on a study at Boston University and as reported in Health News 6/99) "Most people who develop melanoma work indoors and have intense but limited exposure to the sun only on weekends or during vacations."
A retired Australian occupational medicine specialist, Dr. Allen Christophers, reviewed 14 case-controlled studies which examined the relationship between melanoma incidence and total accumulated sun exposure. An article, based on his findings titled " Melanoma Is Not Caused By Sunlight" was published in Mutation Research. The title appropriately reflects his findings.
These, more recent findings, support a study published in 1990 of 4.6 million naval personnel that found that melanoma occurred most frequently on those sailors who worked inside. Those who worked alternately inside and outside had the lowest risk. The study, entitled "Occupational Sunlight Exposure and Melanoma in the U.S. Navy," was conducted by doctors Frank and Cedric Garland (University of California School of Medicine at San Diego). Previous to that study were those conducted at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, England and the University of Sydney's Melanoma Clinic, Sydney Hospital, Australia (published in the British medical journal, Lancet, August 7,1982). Researchers in those studies discovered that the incidence of malignant melanomas was considerably higher in office workers than in individuals who were regularly exposed to sunlight due to lifestyle or occupation.
Are Sunblocks The Solution or Part of The Problem?
Controversy has also been developing over the potential negative effects of the use or "overuse" of sunscreens. Some believe that the rise in melanoma incidence correlates with the widespread use of sunscreen. Sunscreens prevent burning, which is nature's warning to get out of the sun. People, especially those of the more sensitive skin types, are slopping on the sunscreen and staying out in the sun longer thereby receiving excessive doses of UV-A rays, which are not blocked by sunscreen. UV-A rays have been thought to cause melanoma. Sunscreens also block sunlight's ability to produce vitamin D. Others, including myself, believe that synthetic chemicals, found in most sunblocks, may actually promote cancer.
Less serious basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are found on areas that receive the most sun year-round (the face, arms, and backs of the hand). There seems to be higher incidences in lighter-skinned people, especially when chronic over exposures and sunburning is involved. Other factors including diet and vitamin deficiencies have been implicated as precursors. Although I am not aware of specific research, I personally believe that chlorine may share some responsibility. Chlorine is used as a disinfectant in our public water supply systems to prevent bacteria. By-products of chlorine (trihalomethanes) have been linked to various types of cancer. We absorb the chlorine through the skin, and eventually into the bloodstream, from our morning showers and the use of swimming pools. The sun and chlorine are also very drying to the skin. In addition, most people today are chronically dehydrated, since they prefer other beverages over drinking the recommended 8-10 eight ounce glasses of water daily.
While most would agree that excessive, prolonged exposures to ultraviolet light rays may prove harmful, numerous studies indicate that moderate exposures, without burning, are more inclined to produce positive health effects. Sunlight is our only reliable source of vitamin D (various factors indicate that milk is no longer a good source). The body's ability to absorb calcium is linked to vitamin D production, which has been shown to be a factor in decreasing the risks of contracting breast cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, cancers of the blood and lymph tissues, and even osteoporosis. Cancer incidences have also been found to be lower in sunny climates. Various studies supporting the vitamin D and sunlight connection in relation to prevention of disease have been conducted by Dr. Frank Garland, Dr. Cedric Garland, Dr. Michael Holick (Boston University School of Medicine), and others. Some studies have indicated that there is a relationship between vitamin A, C, and E deficiencies and skin cancer, while other research has implicated high fat diets as a precursor to skin cancer.
So, Why Don't I Worry About Skin Cancer?
Considering my lifestyle of sun exposure growing up and the past 30 years of indoor tanning exposures, one would think that I should be, at least, concerned about contracting skin cancer. After all, I have completely ignored any and all recommendations concocted by the "medical experts" and propelled by the news media.
Our research in establishing Essentials Of Life, in 1994, led us to seeking a preventive approach to skin cancer and other diseases from a different perspective, both inside and out. Concern over the wide use of potentially toxic chemicals in skin care products led us to the development of our own "natural" product line. We searched out and added specific products that counter the environmental aspects of our declining "quality of life' (contaminants in our drinking water, poor indoor air quality, and unbalanced, artificial lighting). We added specific multi-vitamin, essential fatty acid, and other formulas effective in supplementing a healthy diet. We use what we sell.
We have been lied to by drug companies, the government, and even doctors. We must come to realize that, individually, we must take responsibility for our own health in the prevention of any disease including skin cancer. For me, disease prevention through nutrition, moderate exercise, rest, and UV exposure in moderation (without sunblock), is the real cure.
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Ray Allard (owner/founder)
Essentials Of Life was created in 1995 to contribute to a healthy lifestyle through education and by offering services and products that to make a positive difference in our customers lives and help them put their health on track. Our main purpose is to help our clients by giving them the tools to help them take charge of their own health.