Core Client Habit: 15 Minutes Per Day Outside With Skin Exposed To Sun

Question: Did You Get Outside For 15 Minutes With Skin Exposed To Sun?
How To Know You’ve Done This: Get Outside Today For 15 Minutes With Skin Exposed To The Sun.

The commercial starts with a mother lathering sunscreen on her husband, her children, and herself before they exchange quick kisses and head off to their day. 


Cut scene to the mom talking about her husband’s unexpected skin cancer diagnosis a few years ago, his near death experience, and how she will swear to protect her family every day with sunscreen from the sun. It’s an emotion-evoking commercial predicated upon fear. And it makes logical sense. The sun can burn our skin. Burns lead to oxidation and free radicals which have indeed been linked to skin cancer.


The story we’ve been fed is that sun exposure has a linear relationship with cancer. Every minute in the sun makes us more likely to get cancer. Moms walk around feeling like they are terrible mothers if they don’t lather their kiddos every day. And you better have on the SPF 50+ skinsuit if you’re going to the beach. 


But what if there was more to the story? What is most sunscreens were toxic, cancer-causing themselves, and made getting the necessary amounts of Vitamin impossible? Is some good and too much bad? Does skin color and equatorial location play a role? What are we to do in areas of high or low sun exposure?


Dr. Mercola, author of the No Grain Diet, says it well, “Dangers of sun exposure have been greatly exaggerated and the benefits highly underestimated. Excess sun exposure is not the major reason people develop skin cancer (many people believe poor diet, exposure to other environmental toxins such as swimming pool chlorine, and insufficient sun are more significant risk factors). A study from the Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego suggested that 600,000 cases of cancer could be prevented every year by just increasing your vitamin D levels.”


Too much sunlight is no-bueno. We certainly don’t want burnt skin. The medical world and common sense understand that burnt skin and a plethora of inflammation is not healthy, leads to oxidation, free radicals and higher potential for cancer later in life. 


Interestingly, folks who live in areas of higher UV radiation have less of certain cancers, like prostate cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, leukemia, bladder cancer, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, and lymphoid cancers.  


There have also been some fascinating studies on the ability of Vitamin D, from the sun, killing skin cancer cells.


Of the 434,000 cancer deaths in 2019, only 1% were from Melanoma. So the benefits of getting adequate sun exposure are massive (which we will go into below) and the risks of getting melanoma appear to be very small. 


Our bodies are designed to be in the sun each and every day. Not only do we have indwelling protective mechanisms to shield us from the sun’s rays, but we NEED the sun to set in motion processes and hormones in our body which keep us healthy, sleeping normally, and happy. 


Humans thousands of years ago woke with the sun and worked in the sun. Then, at night, they stopped working and wound down by candles or firelight. The darkness of the evening signaled their brain and body that it was time to sleep. 


Compare that with the human of today who stays inside a sun-protected box for most of their day and shield’s themselves from the sun with sunglasses and sunscreen any time they go outside. And when it’s supposed to be dark, they artificially stimulate themselves with screens and light to stay awake. 


Putting large surfaces of your skin in the the path of the suns rays enable your body to manufacture vitamin D. Vitamin D is involved in nearly every process in the human body. 

Vitamin D is the most for healthy nails, teeth and it works with other fat soluble vitamins to normally. 


Vitamin D is no amatuer. It’s a professional. Actually, it’s a “pro-hormone” meaning it supports hormones in an essential way. Mark Sission says, “Vitamin D helps regulate skeletal, cardiovascular, immune, hormonal, and dental health. A deficiency can cause rickets, osteoporosis, muscle wasting, and various hormonal deficiencies. Low levels are linked to heart disease, autoimmune diseases, all cause mortality, and many cancers. These are the systemic effects that get the most attention, but what if the dermatologists and sun alarmists were wrong, or at least a little misguided in their binary opposition to any and all sun? On the surface, it seems counterintuitive that an act that has so many proven anti-carcinogenic and health benefits – getting enough sunlight to optimize vitamin D levels – would increase our chances of getting another type of deadly cancer. It’s possible, but it’s odd.”


Current research is even showing that smart sun exposure may have a skin-cancer protective effect. That’s different! 


So maybe you’d buy it that some sun is a good thing. You’ll even get the 15 minutes we recommend. But you may argue that those who get the most sun exposure get the most cancer. Lifeguards and those who work outside probably get skin cancer more often than the office workers. 


But it doesn’t seem to work that way. 


Indoor office workers are at worse risk of increasing their risk for skin cancer through weekend and vacations in the sun than the person who consistently works in the sun. Lifetime sun exposure is correlated with LOWER risks of melanoma. 


In a shocking twist of events, body parts that are usually clothed have the highest rates of skin cancer and those that are unclothed (hands and face) have the highest rates. 


You could think of it like this. Indoor skin isn’t ready for the massive doses of sun exposure most folks give it on vacation and weekends by the pool. It’s a shock to the system which leads to massive amounts of oxidative stress. But most windows in the offices and homes we work and live in filter out the Vitamin-D producing UVB. UVA by itself, like the light streaming in through your car window on a long road trip, breaks down vitamin D. 


Summary: The real problem is getting sunburns. This is especially concerning on areas of the body which don’t get sun exposure often. 


Sunshine Tips


Keep a light tan year round. Get sun for short periods of time (especially in the early morning) on large portions of your body. 


Go out in the early AM and at noon. Early morning sun helps set us up for a good night of sleep by regulating our circadian ryhthym. Mid-day sun is when UVB and vitamin D production are highest. 


Don’t burn. For all the reasons mentioned above, it’s dangerous. 


Ease in. When you go on vacay, build up your tan slowly instead of getting a burn. 


Don’t tan, just move around in the sun with as much skin surface exposed to the sun as possible. Getting excessive exposure on one area, a-la laying out, can lead to burns. 

What About Sunscreen?

I think we’ve made our case that sun exposure in the right amounts is something our body needs to be optimally healthy and that burning is bad. 


So what should you do if you need to out in the sun all day with skin exposed? Think all-day beach parties, long-hikes, and the dreaded graduation ceremony. First, do your best to cover exposed body parts. Hats, glasses, long-sleeve shirts, gloves, long pants, umbrellas, etc. 


But what if avoiding the sun is not possible? Should you lather up with sunscreen to protect yourself?


If the only way to prevent a sunburn on a given day is with sunscreen, then lather up. 

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