Global Resilience Solutions > 2012 > April

Want to Slash Your Cancer Risk? Then Reevaluate Your Attitudes to Sun Exposure…

The birds are singing, the weather’s changing… spring is here! And with that comes the sun. That great big ball of fire in the sky holds the key to the surprisingly simple way to improve your health and happiness – sun exposure! That’s right – the sun. Though often touted by the media as the Number One way to get cancer, the sunshine is not as black as it’s painted. As winter begins to wind down, now is the time to re-evaluate your attitudes about “catching some rays”!

What can the sun do for you?

Quite a number of things!

➯ Regulates melatonin in the body. When you’re outside in the sun, the body produces melatonin, which is what makes you feel tired. You’ll find it easier to go to bed earlier, with a deeper sleep. You’ll wake up refreshed and energized!

➯ Promotes bone health and mineral homeostasis.

➯ Fights illness.  According to Dr. Joseph Mercola’s book, Dark Deception (published in 2008), simple sunshine can be your ally in combating all kinds of mental and physical diseases, including: 16 types of internal cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, ricketts, schizophrenia, tuberculosis and myopathy.  Here’s what Dr. Mercola has to say about healthy sun exposure (the part about insect repellent is an extra bonus!):

➯ Improves mood. Have you ever heard of SAD? Seasonal affective disorder affects us all in degrees – a lack of sun can manifest itself though the symptoms of depression. The lift in spirits we feel in the springtime is tied with the increased exposure we get to UV rays. The more you get out into the sunshine, the better you’ll feel – exposure to the sun is tied with production of seratonin.

➯ Recent findings have shown that vitamin D affects a wider spectrum of cells than we first thought. The findings suggest that there are many more positive effects of vitamin D just waiting to be found!  One thing the latest research does suggest, however, is that 1/3 of all cancer deaths could likely be prevented simply by appropriate sun exposure and the vitamin-D levels resulting from it.


This is where the “sneaky” comes in – because getting the sun you need is as simple as skipping the sunscreen. Don’t apply until you’ve gotten at least twenty minutes of hot sun. So walk or bike to work. Read in your backyard. Go on a picnic with the ones you love! Plan a beach day! Or simply take a stroll. All of these are easy ways to get a better night’s sleep, lower your cancer risk and prevent illness for years to come. And adding a little healthy colour to your skin can’t hurt either!

How much?

If you’re fair, ten minutes a day of sun at its peak (between 12:00 pm and 3:00 pm) should do the trick, and if you have a warm/medium skin tone, the recommended 20 minutes a day. If you’re more darkly pigmented, you may need up to three times that. And remember, exposure just on your face and hands often isn’t enough. Shorts and t-shirts are your friend!

What about skin damage?

While the negative effects of the sun on your body are grossly exaggerated by the media, a sunburn should undoubtedly be avoided! After you’ve had a bit of sun exposure, protect yourself from a sun overdose with a hat, a light shirt or a shawl. Or simply stay in the shade! While sunscreen is another way to protect from the sun, it’s far from the best way. First, who knows the effects of all the chemicals that are put into it? We slather on so much of this stuff, and it’s going right through our skin into our bloodstream. I’ve known many people that have had allergic reactions to the stuff, which doesn’t bode well. Wouldn’t it be far healthier, and easier, simply to wear a hat and hang out in the shade? And I for one have never been a fan of the pale-shiny faced look that arises when you’ve glopped all of the stuff on. But perhaps that’s just my vanity speaking.

The worst has happened! You’ve gotten a sunburn!

Don’t panic! Just apply aloe vera (raw if you have it) as often as you can until it heals. Aloe is above and beyond the best way to quickly and effectively treat and soothe sun-damaged skin. Cover the affected area when you’re  in the sun to avoid exacerbating the injury, and try to get your daily recommended sun exposure on another part of the body, if possible.

Wishing you and your family lots of fun in the sun!

~Dr. Symeon Rodger

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