Sun and Medical Politics

This was posted by a writer that I follow. I have held the arguments to be true for a long time.

July 24, 2017

Coffee, Sunshine, and the Elite Healthcare Mandarins

Dear Reader,

It’s summer here in South Florida. Nearly every day, thunderstorms roll in around noon. Power surges and temporary outages caused by lightning are so frequent, I’ve stopped resetting the clock on the microwave.

With the ground soaked and temperatures in the 90s, leaving the house in the afternoon is like stepping into an outdoor sauna. Naturally, the snowbirds have gone back north. I miss Canadian diphthongs, but traffic’s lighter and lines in stores are shorter.

This is my favorite time of the year. There’s usually sunshine for an hour or two in the late morning before the storms. Because I work at home, I have coffee in my swimsuit by the pool, one of the most powerful anti-aging therapies.

I mean that. I realize that coffee and sunshine are both considered toxins by many people. Many people, however, are wrong. Evidence is overwhelming that coffee and sunshine significantly reduce the incidence of serious diseases, assuming you don’t overdose.

It’s odd that some of the most effective and convenient health aids are ignored or even shunned. Our culture, after all, reveres health and youth. The question, therefore, is why so many people are so uninformed about such a basic health issue as sunshine.

It wasn’t always that way. When I was young, parents were continually telling kids to “Go outside and get some sun.” Some parents—usually mothers—may have just wanted an hour or two of quiet, but there was a bigger reason.

In the first few decades of the 20th century, scientists proved that a component of sunshine cured the childhood form of osteomalacia, the bone softening disease known as rickets. The US and Canadian governments established programs to educate the public about the benefits of sunshine and the vitamin D it produced in the skin.

Additionally, synthetic vitamin D was added to milk. By the time World War II arrived, the memory of widespread rickets was beginning to fade. By the end of the 20th century, direct sunshine was being villainized as a public health threat by the medical establishment.

Like so many other widely believed medical canards, the scientific case was never there. Whether you believe that humans are the result of evolution or divine creation, it’s weird to think that nature or God made such a huge mistake that humans must avoid sunlight like hybrid vampires.

In fact, we don’t just tolerate sunshine. We seem to need it. And it’s not just about ultraviolet B that creates vitamin D in the skin.

Scottish scientists revealed in 2013 that people who get more sun have lower blood pressure and incidence of stroke than those who don’t (http://www.ed.ac.uk/news/2013/sunshine-080513). This is because sunshine is used in the skin to produce the components of nitric oxide (NO). NO is essential for vasodilation which increases blood flow.

In 2014, they showed that sunshine slows the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes (http://www.ed.ac.uk/news/2014/sunshine-241014). In neither case is vitamin D responsible for those benefits. In fact, sunshine in Scotland’s northern latitudes provides little of the ultraviolet B needed to produce vitamin D.

Just last year, scientists at Georgetown University Medical Center showed that sunlight energizes T cells, the warriors of our immune systems. Once again, this is not due to vitamin D, which also boosts immune function. It may, in fact, explain why people who get a lot of sun have fewer dangerous melanoma skin cancers.

Some people who get too much may get nonmelanoma skin cancers, but they are basically harmless and easily removed. Ironically, a very recent Case Western Reserve clinical trial (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170706125020.htm) indicates that very high levels of vitamin D may reduce sunburn’s pain, swelling, and skin damage associated with cancers.

It’s preferable, of course, just to avoid sunburn. That doesn’t mean that you slather on the sunscreen whenever you go outside, however. Rather, you should get moderate exposure to build a base that protects your skin from burning, while getting the many varied advantages delivered by sunlight.

Those advantages are remarkable. Vitamin D, even in supplement form, seems to cut the risk of major diseases by about half. Michael Holick, the scientist who turned around the scientific community on the subject, estimates that getting everybody’s serum D levels up to optimal ranges would cut societal healthcare cost by 25%.

I think that number is too conservative. I’ve spoken to Canadian scientists who believe the benefit would be significantly greater. In fact, one group told me that a combination of sunshine and D supplementation would balance both the Canadian and US healthcare budgets. Given the new research on blood pressure, stroke, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and immune function, they’re probably right.

You will occasionally read about some paper refuting the notion that vitamin D improves everybody’s health. In fact, that’s correct. We know that, for some reason, some very healthy people don’t seem to need high serum D levels.

That’s not a refutation of the value of D or sunshine, though. It’s just proof that there are great variations among individuals. We need personalized rather than scatter-shot medicine. In the meantime, most people would benefit significantly from intelligent vitamin D and sunshine therapy. Incidentally, those who aren’t helped by increasing D and sunshine moderately aren’t hurt either.

The easiest and most effective solutions to our biggest challenges exist in biotechnology. New Zealand has already proven that the concept is sound (https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/vitamin-d-supplementation-program-cuts-down-on-health-care-costs-in-new-zealand/). The failure of our healthcare bureaucracy to actively pursue anti-aging strategies may be the single greatest public policy failure of our time.

Seventy years ago, the US government actively and rightly encouraged moderate sun exposure. Today, we know that the benefits of sunshine and higher vitamin D dosages are even greater, but officials are silent.

There are, thankfully, important exceptions. One is the network of scientists at grassrootshealth.net (http://grassrootshealth.net/). They deserve your support.

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18 thoughts on “Sun and Medical Politics”

  1. from what I can gather from what I regard as reasonably unbiased research, the problem with sun exposure is the fact that most people avoid it with clothes and staying indoors for 50 weeks of the year. We have a built-in biological mechanism to combat this, but it relies on daily exposure to the sunshine where you live all year round, starting mid winter and then able to build through springtime to be able to offer pretty much full protection then for the summer – millions of years of evolution not only made this possible, but means that our bodies are to a large extent as dependant on this as an alcoholic is on their next drink . . . Now after a couple of hundred years of 'civilised society' we turn to lobsters on the first day of our Mediterranean holiday (well, some of us do anyway!) and end up with skin cancer – and people don't understand why – ? That's my excuse for staying naked as much as possible anyway 🙂

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    • Exactly, Gordon. I make a point of going out to get sunshine as early in the spring as I can manage. And I increase my exposure time as the seasons warm. By mid summer I'm sufficiently protected that I can pretty much stay outside naked most of the day. No tan lines. No sunburn. Just healthy normal skin color and UV protection.

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  2. SPl Maker….. I was also covered in psoriasis, head to toe, raindrop type…. was kicked out of the Royal Marines 25 years ago because of it…. I had light therapy at hospital, cleared 90% of it up ….now I have small amounts, on my head and knees….. I'll be outside in the sun naked whenever possible as it's great for psoriasis

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  3. I have suffered from psoriasis for decades, at times covering more than 25% of my body. In the last several months, I have taken to spending increased time outdoors fully naked and when possible without shoes. I also avoid the use of sunscreens and sunglasses and hats. When first exposing myself to the sun, I carefully spend 20 minutes per side laying in the sun with coconut oil as my only protectant. Once I get a base tan, I can lay off of the coconut oil, but remain careful not to over expose myself to the sun. Now my psoriasis is 99% gone … except for my scalp. And because of that, last week I cut off all of my hair to give my scalp more UV exposure. I am a believer that the combination of Vitamin D and moderate exposure to UV has a positive curative effect.

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  4. Of course we naturists of a lifetime know the truth of getting the skin "weathered". Many times in 'medical situations' I have had comments made about the "healthy colour" of my skin. Although I have sometimes not actually been too healthy in those situations, I have preferred to think of those people making the comments as probably the pasty skinned textile ilk. I have seen the very white skin of some people and wondered if their anaemic tone was a fore warning of poor health and weak acclimatisation.
    One nurse told me instantly after I disrobed that "glowed a very good skin"

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  5. Sunshine and Vitamine D are so important that dark skin people who move to high latitudes have a significantly higher death rate. Living in higher latitudes rapidly drives human evolution to light colored skin so we can absorb more of the precious sunshine. The farther north, the stronger the evolutionary change. We shouldn't have to understand the details of the mechanism to observe the results.

    Recent studies have shown that sunshine is important for human T-cells. I'm not an expert on such things but T-cells are an important part of the immunity mechanism by which our bodies fight off diseases. Good T-cells you live long and prosper. Weak T-cells you are slain by some passing virus or bacteria. Sunshine keeps us alive.

    The late 20th century phobia against sunshine was just nuts. There have been many sources of bad or harmful advice about how to stay healthy, and that was one of their worst.

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