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Sensible Sun Exposure 3

Vitamin D Could Prevent 90 Percent of Breast Cancers

heories linking vitamin D deficiency to cancer have been tested and confirmed in more than 200 epidemiological studies, and understanding of its physiological basis stems from more than 2,500 laboratory studies.

In the above interview, Grassroots Health founder Carole Baggerly believes 90 percent of ordinary breast cancer is related to vitamin D deficiency. In fact, breast cancer has been described as a “vitamin D deficiency syndrome.” The way vitamin D interferes with breast cancer’s ability to spread is by affecting the structure of those cells—without adequate vitamin D, they fall apart and are forced to “overmultiply” in order to survive.

Previous research has shown that optimizing your vitamin D levels can reduce your risk for as many as 16 different types of cancer, including pancreatic, lung, ovarian, breast, prostate, and skin cancers. A study of menopausal women showed that maintaining vitamin D serum levels of 40ng/ml lowers overall cancer risk by 77 percent.

Two recent papers in the journal Science Express11 shed light on how cancer might begin. A cancer cell can be created when unusual mutations occur in a small area of its DNA that controls and regulates its genes, as contrasted with mutations in the genes themselves. The mutations spur the cell to make telomerase. One of the functions of telomerase is to prevent telomere shortening, which leads to cell death. According to Harvard researchers, abundant telomerase is so important to cancers that it appears in nine out of ten.

In addition to being a strong cancer preventative, vitamin D is crucial for pregnant women and their babies, lowering the risk for preterm birth, low birth weight, and C-section. And sadly, 80 percent of pregnant women have inadequate vitamin D levels.

Low Vitamin D in Pregnancy May Increase Your Baby’s Risk for Multiple Sclerosis Later in Life

Sunshine is so important to your overall health that science is now finding a connection between the strength of your immune system and your birthday, called the “birth month effect.” If you were born in the spring, you are statistically more vulnerable to developing an autoimmune disease such as multiple sclerosis (MS), than if you were born in the fall.12, 13

Why would this be?

Some researchers suggest it’s related to a pregnant woman’s vitamin D levels during her baby’s gestation. April and May babies have been gestating during the colder, darker months, as opposed to November and December babies, who’ve been developing over the spring and summer. Now a study in JAMA Neurology14 shows this hunch may be correct, suggesting a mechanism related to thymic development. Another study suggests sun exposure and vitamin D may play roles in the CNS demyelination associated with MS.15

And the sun can lift your mood! New research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine shows that Google searches for mental health related issues drop by 15 to 42 percent during the summer months, which could very well be related to the boost in vitamin D.16 Vitamin D deficiency is a known factor in cognitive impairment and dementia.

Practicing Safe Sunning

Safely exposing your bare skin to the sun is the best way to optimize your vitamin D levels, and is therefore the best protection against melanoma. Sunburn should be avoided at all cost. I recommend reading our article about safe sunning guidelines and listening to the video above for detailed instructions about how to do this safely and effectively.

Vitamin D3 is an oil soluble steroid hormone (the term “vitamin” is a misnomer) that forms when your skin is exposed to UVB radiation from the sun or a safe tanning bed. When UVB strikes the surface of your skin, your skin converts a cholesterol derivative into vitamin D3. It takes up to 48 hours for this D3 to be absorbed into your bloodstream to raise your vitamin D levels. Therefore, it’s important to avoid washing your skin with soap for 48 hours after sun exposure. In case you do develop a sunburn, immediately apply raw aloe vera, as it’s one of the best skin remedies.

As a general guideline, research by GrassrootsHealth suggests that adults need about 8,000 IU’s per day to achieve a serum level of 40 ng/ml. If you opt for a vitamin D supplement, you also need to boost your intake of vitamin K2 through food and/or a supplement. How do you know if your vitamin D level is in the right range? The most important factor is having your vitamin D serum level tested every six months, as people vary widely in their response to ultraviolet exposure or oral D3 supplementation. Your goal is to reach a clinically relevant serum level of 50-70 ng/ml.

Overuse of Sunscreen May Turn You into a Melanoma Magnet

Following the advise of health officials’ to slather on sunscreen may increase your melanoma risk instead of decreasing it, which is certainly not what you want. Indeed, you never want to let yourself burn. However, if you practice safe-sunning, you will avail yourself of all of the sun’s health benefits with none of the risk.

If you do use a sunscreen, please be careful about which product you choose as many sunscreen products contain chemicals you don’t want absorbed into your body. According to the Environmental Working Group’s 2012 Sunscreen Guide,17 about 75 percent of sunscreens contain potentially harmful ingredients, such as oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate. Avoid products with SPF’s higher than 50, and make sure yours offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays.

Keep in mind SPF only protects against UVBs—but it’s the UVAs that increase your risk for skin cancer and are responsible for photoaging your skin. Recall that it’s the UVBs that stimulate your vitamin D production, so you don’t want to block out too many of them.

Using an “internal sunscreen” is an alternative to topical sunblock agents. Astaxanthin—a potent antioxidant—has been found to offer effective protection against sun damage when taken as a daily supplement. It can also be used topically and a number of topical sunscreen products contain it. Some sunscreens are also starting to use astaxanthin as an ingredient to protect your skin from damage. As an alternative, you can cover up with lightweight clothing to protect yourself. Sometimes we forget about the simple things, like simply wearing a hat.

For the latest information about vitamin D, please visit our Vitamin D News and Information page.

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