• Sunshine Health Foundation

Special Message to Black Americans

Updated: Oct 3



Black Americans have long suffered from worse health than White Americans, a fact pointed out more than a hundred years ago by the great American sociologist W. E. B. Du Bois as one of the factors holding back Black Americans from economic advancement. In 1899, he added that “The most difficult social problem in the matter of Negro health is to understand why so few white Americans are bothered by it.”

What you will read on this website for the first time is that 21st Century science together with a landmark study in 2022 by the eminent medical scientist Dr. David G. Hoel has revealed a way to correct a significant part of this health disparity by the simple step of getting a lot more sun exposure.

Since the beginning of the 21st Century, an enormous body of science has been developed on the relationship between human health and sun exposure. A summary of this body of science was published in 2020 in an article co-written by 15 of the leading scientists in the world on this subject. One of the authors of this study, Dr. David G. Hoel noticed that many of the diseases identified in the 2020 study as resulting from insufficient sun exposure were the same as the diseases disproportionately suffered by Black Americans. He connected the dots and became the first scientist in history to discover that a significant portion of the nation’s Black-White health disparities are attributable to insufficient sun exposure. His study on the subject was published on July 31, 2022. This seminal study is good news for Black Americans, for it shows a clear path to reduce or possibly even eliminate the horrendous excess of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, COVID-19 and shorter life expectancy borne by Black Americans.

To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time in history that this information has been made available to Black Americans.


The Sun Exposure Component of Health Disparities Between Black and White Americans


As explained elsewhere on this website, most Americans of all skin colors and all ages suffer from the ill effects of insufficient sun exposure. However, Black Americans suffer from these ill effects far more than White Americans. This is because their skins contain a larger amount of melanin, and melanin absorbs some of the sun’s rays. This larger amount of melanin suited Black Americans’ ancestors well in the strong tropical sun of Africa but is ill-suited for the weaker sun of the United States. Black Americans therefore need more sun exposure than White Americans to avoid the severe adverse health consequences of insufficient sun exposure. The amount of melanin in people’s skins evolved to be enough to protect against sun-induced skin cancer but not so much as to interfere with the health benefits of sun exposure. This delicate balance was upset by the transport of Black Americans’ ancestors to the United States.


Lack of sufficient sun exposure is a significant part of the reason for the health disparities between Black and White Americans, along with the well-known social determinants of health such as unequal access to good medical care, unequal access to healthy foods and the stress caused by discrimination, disrespect, poverty and systemic racism. Click here for what you should do to get more sun exposure.


Listed below are some of the diseases related to insufficient sun exposure, the year the relationship between such diseases and insufficient sun exposure was discovered, and the incidence of such diseases in Black Americans compared to White Americans.


1. Insufficient sun exposure increases the risk of multiple sclerosis by 100%.

(Discovered in 2003)


The incidence of multiple sclerosis is 47% higher in Black Americans than in White Americans. Minority populations in the United States have a higher incidence of multiple sclerosis compared with their ancestral countries of origin.


2. Insufficient sun exposure increases the risk of colon cancer by 104%. (Discovered in 2007)


The incidence of colon cancer is 19% higher in Black Americans than in White Americans, and Black Americans are 145% more likely to die from colon cancer than White Americans.


3. Insufficient sun exposure increases the risk of high blood pressure (hypertension). (Discovered in 2009)

The incidence of hypertension is 37% higher in Black Americans than in White Americans, and mortality due to hypertension and its consequences is 4 to 5 times more likely in Black Americans than in White Americans. Notably, the incidence of hypertension in black-skinned persons is far lower in Africa and increases in a consistent gradient from Africa to the Caribbean to the United States. Black Americans are 30% more likely to die from heart disease than White Americans. Black American women are 60% more likely to have high blood pressure than White American women.

4. Insufficient sun exposure increases the risk of tuberculosis by 400%. (Discovered in 2010)


The incidence of TB is 700% higher in Black Americans than in White Americans.


5. Insufficient sun exposure of pregnant women and infants increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). (Discovered in 2013)


Black American infants are more than twice as likely to die from SIDS than White American infants.


6. Insufficient sun exposure increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by 50%. (Discovered in 2013)


The incidence of type 2 diabetes is 56% higher in Black Americans than in White Americans, and Black Americans are twice as likely to die from type 2 diabetes as White Americans.


7. Insufficient sun exposure increases the risk of stroke by 82%. (Discovered in 2013)


Black Americans are 50% more likely to have a stroke than White Americans. Black women are twice as likely to have a stroke than white women. Black men are 70% more likely to die from a stroke than white men.


8. Insufficient sun exposure increases the risk of rheumatoid arthritis by 37%.(Discovered in 2013)


The incidence of rheumatoid arthritis in Black American men is 70% higher than in White American men, and is 100% higher in Black American women than in White American women.


9. Insufficient sun exposure shortens life expectancy. (Discovered in 2014)


Black Americans have a 3½ year shorter life expectancy than White Americans. A 2014 study found that 12.8% of U.S. deaths (340,000 deaths per year) are attributable to insufficient sun exposure, but did not break down this figure by race. It is probable that these deaths occurred disproportionately among Black Americans.


10. Insufficient sun exposure increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 122%. (Discovered in 2014)


The incidence of Alzheimer’s disease in Black Americans is 100% higher than in White Americans.


11. Insufficient sun exposure of pregnant women triples the risk that their male children will have asthma at age 6, and insufficient sun exposure in early childhood increases the risk for persistent asthma. (Discovered in 2014)


The incidence of asthma in the United States is 40% higher in Black Americans than in White Americans. The mortality rate of asthma is 200% higher for Black Americans than for White Americans. Black children are 5 times more likely to be admitted to the hospital for asthma than white children.


12. Insufficient sun exposure increases the risk of obesity. (Discovered in 2014)


The incidence of obesity in Black Americans is 18% higher than in White Americans.


13. Insufficient sun exposure increases the risk of preterm birth by 133%. (Discovered in 2016)


The pre-term birth rate is 64% higher for Black Americans than for White Americans. Black Americans have 2.3 times the infant mortality rate of White Americans. Black American infants are 3.8 times more likely to die from complications related to low birthweight as compared to White American infants.


14. Insufficient sun exposure increases the risk of stomach cancer. (Discovered in 2016)


Black American men are 1.7 times more likely to have stomach cancer than White American men and are 2.5 times more likely to die from stomach cancer. Black American women are twice as likely to have stomach cancer as White American women and are 2.2 times more likely to die from stomach cancer.


15. Insufficient sun exposure of pregnant women increases the risk of childhood obesity. (Discovered in 2018)


35.9% of Black American children ages 2-9 are overweight or obese compared to 29.3% of White American children of the same age.


16. Insufficient sun exposure increases the risk of incidence and mortality from COVID-19.(Discovered in 2021)


Black Americans are 2.8 times as likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 as White Americans, and 2.0 times as likely to die from COVID-19.


What Should Black Americans Do?


Black American need a lot more sun exposure than they are currently getting.


The Good News is that 21st century science has finally revealed a simple and inexpensive way to correct a significant part of the health disparities suffered for so long by Black Americans. Get more sun exposure. Sun exposure is free.


Click here for what you should do to get more sun exposure.


Message to Black American Women Who are Pregnant or Planning to Become Pregnant


Lack of sufficient sun exposure during pregnancy can cause unnecessary pregnancy risks for you and can have devastating impacts on the health of your child. Here is what recent scientific studies have shown:


1. Insufficient sun exposure during pregnancy increases the risk that your child will have asthma.


In 2019, Black American children had a death rate from asthma eight times that of White American children. In 2017, Black American children were 5 times more likely to be admitted to the hospital for asthma, as compared to White American children.


2. Insufficient sun exposure during pregnancy increases the risk of preterm birth by 144%.


The preterm birth rate is 64% higher for Black Americans than for White Americans. Black Americans have 2.3 times the infant mortality rate of White Americans. Black American infants are 3.8 times more likely to die from complications related to low birthweight as compared to White American infants.


3. Insufficient sun exposure of pregnant women and infants increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).


Black American infants are more than twice as likely to die from SIDS than White American infants.


4. Insufficient sun exposure during pregnancy increases the risk of type 1 diabetes in male children at ages 5-9 years by 67%.


According the CDC, between 2002 and 2015, type 1 diabetes cases among Black American children increased 50% more than among White American children, and Black American children are twice as likely as White American children to die from the disease.


5. Insufficient sun exposure during pregnancy increases the risk of having an autistic child by 142%.


Black American children are more at risk for autism than White American children.


6. Insufficient sun exposure during pregnancy increases the risk of your child developing schizophrenia by 44%.


Black Americans are 2.4 times more likely than White Americans to develop schizophrenia.

7. Insufficient sun exposure during pregnancy adversely affects brain development of the fetus and is associated with poor mental development to the extent that the chances of the infant developing an IQ over 110 are decreased by 50%.


8. Insufficient sun exposure during pregnancy increases the risk that your child will have learning disabilities. Sun exposure in the first trimester is especially important for fetal brain development.


9. Pregnant women with serum 25(OH)D less than 18 ng/mL compared to more than 28 ng/mL have twice the risk of having a child that will experience significant language difficulties.


10. Insufficient sun exposure during pregnancy increases the risk of your child developing juvenile idiopathic arthritis.


11. Insufficient sun exposure during pregnancy increases the risk of childhood obesity.


35.9% of Black American children ages 2-9 are overweight or obese compared to 29.3% of White American children of the same age.


12. Insufficient sun exposure during pregnancy increases the risk that your child will experience high blood pressure. Children with 25(OH)D less than 11 ng/mL at birth have a 104% increased risk of high blood pressure at ages 3 to 18 years, and high blood pressure at these ages in an important determinant of subsequent hypertension and cardiovascular disease later in life.


13. Insufficient sun exposure of during pregnancy increases the risk of multiple sclerosis in offspring. Pregnant women with 25(OH)D in early pregnancy less than 12 ng/mL compared to more than 12 ng/mL have a 90% increased risk of having a child with multiple sclerosis.


The incidence of multiple sclerosis is 47% higher in Black Americans than in White Americans. Minority populations in the United States have a higher incidence of multiple sclerosis compared with their ancestral countries of origin.


14. Insufficient sun exposure of women in the first 26 weeks of pregnancy increases the risk of severe preeclampsia by 67%. Preeclampsia in mothers resulting from insufficient sun exposure leads to high blood pressure in their children.


Then there is the matter of Black American maternal mortality. On May 16, 2019, Allyson Felix, the only woman to win six Olympic track and field gold medals, testified to a House committee holding hearings on racial disparities in maternal mortality. She told the committee of her own terrifying experiences of coming near to death during the birth of her daughter. She told the committee she was shocked that in the 21st century women in America are still dying from childbirth. She later learned that Black American women are three times as likely to die from childbirth than white women. There has not yet been a study tying maternal mortality to insufficient sun exposure, but it is a likely suspect.