1. Should I worry about skin cancer when I am getting the sun exposure I need for good health?
The science shows that sun-induced melanoma is associated only with severe sunburns causing pain lasting 48 hours, blistering or peeling. Non-burning sun exposure actually reduces the risk of melanoma. So, if you are careful to avoid severe sunburns, you can get all the sun exposure you need without increasing your risk for melanoma. We say “sun-induced melanoma” because some melanomas have nothing to do with the sun and occur on the soles of feet, the palms of hands, in the mouth or under toenails. Click here for the science on sun exposure and melanoma.
The other two types of skin cancer, squamous cell (SCC) and basal cell (BCC) are associated with very large amounts of lifetime cumulative sun exposure even if it does not involve any severe burns. Considering how little sun exposure people with light skin need for good health, getting the sun exposure you need should not add a lot to your risk of SCC or BCC. People with dark skin need a lot more sun exposure but have almost no risk for SCC or BCC. Since the vast majority of SCCs and BCCs occur on the face and neck, persons who expect to have a large amount of sun exposure during their lifetimes can minimize any increased risk of SCC or BCC by covering their faces and neck with a white towel or wearing a broad brimmed hat when getting the sun exposure they need for good health.
Click here for the science on sun exposure and SCC and BCC.
2. How much sun exposure do you need for good health?
Enough to maintain your level of serum 25(OH)D at 30 ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter). You can determine your level of serum 25(OH)D by getting a standard vitamin D blood test from your doctor or by ordering an at-home test kit on the internet (google vitamin D test kit). Most White Americans will need only 10-30 minutes in the sun three times a week with arms and legs exposed. Black Americans will need substantially more.
3. What is serum 25(OH)D?
Serum 25(OH)D (sometimes called 25-hydroxyvitamin D) is a biomolecular precursor to vitamin D that circulates in your blood. Since 70%-90% of 25(OH)D is produced by photons from the sun, the level of 25(OH)D in your blood is at the same time the best metric for your vitamin D status and the best metric for sun exposure.
4. Does a tan protect you against sunburn?
Although denied by dermatologists and most of the medical establishment, a tan provides very good protection against sunburn. Melanoma, to the extent it is related at all to sun exposure (some melanomas have nothing to do with sun exposure), is related only to severe sunburns, and a good tan provides protection against sunburns. Reducing your risk of sun-related melanoma requires avoidance of severe sunburns, so having a good tan reduces your risk of melanoma. Unlike chemical sunscreens, a tan is not subject to washing off, incorrect application or failure to reapply.
Some medical authorities deny that a tan provides any protection against sunburn at all, while others say it has an SPF of only 2 or 3. Amazingly, no scientific study on the protection afforded by tan has ever been published in the entire history of the world. The probable reason for this is that, given the medical establishment’s longstanding and incorrect exaggerations of the harms of sun exposure, it is considered unethical to do a scientific study that involves intentionally exposing a human being to the sun or a sunlamp. However, these ethical considerations do not apply to exposing yourself to the sun or a sunlamp, so an individual could do such a study on themselves. An individual did such a study on himself in the late summer and early fall of 2021. The result showed that his tan had an SPF of 24. Click HERE for his official report of his study.
5. What if I don’t want any more sun exposure on my face?
If you don’t want any more sun exposure on your face, it is OK to wear a hat or put a white towel over your face when you are getting the sun exposure you need for good health so long as your arms and legs are exposed. Remember that the benefit you get from the sun is proportional to the area of skin you expose to the sun.
6. What is the cause of insufficient sun exposure?
Insufficient sun exposure is caused by people spending more and more time indoors. Migration of the workforce from outdoor to indoor work and increased the indoor attractions of air conditioning, television, video games and the internet are all factors, exacerbated by the sun avoidance advice from government health agencies and the healthcare community in general.
Black Americans have an additional problem. The larger amount of melanin in their skins (a result of the evolution of their ancestors in the powerful equatorial sun) blocks more of the sun’s rays than the smaller amount of melanin in the skins of White Americans, so they suffer even more than White Americans from the adverse health effects of insufficient sun exposure. Click HERE for Special Message to Black Americans.
7. What are the consequences of insufficient sun exposure?
The consequences of inadequate sun exposure are severe, resulting in catastrophic bodily malfunctions at the cellular and molecular levels that lead to a wide variety of serious diseases and reduced life expectancy.
8. Who should get tested for insufficient sun exposure?
Every person in the U.S. should get tested to determine if they are suffering from insufficient sun exposure. The best test for this is the standard vitamin D blood test which determines the level of the biomolecule 25(OH)D in the blood. Since 70-90% of this biomolecule is produced by sun exposure, its level in the blood is the best metric for the amount of sun exposure experienced by the person tested. A reading of less than 30 ng/mL of serum 25(OH)D on this test indicates you need more sun exposure.
Needless to say, when you are getting the sun exposure you need for good health, don’t put sunscreen or anything else on your skin. And always remember to AVOID SUNBURN.
Sunshine Should Be Pursued In Moderation.
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America's second largest public health problem is insufficient sun exposure. It's responsible for 340,000 preventable deaths per year, just behind tobacco and ahead of obesity.
The public needs to be aware of insufficient sun exposure risks and increase daily sun exposure to improve health.