Does Sunshine Really Cause Skin Cancer?


Today's New York Times features an interesting piece on the mythic links between deadly cancer melanoma and exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun from the vantage point of a noted dematologist who believes no link exists between the two.

So much so that after a recent trip to the Middle East, the doctor was deeply tanned, not worrying about the hundreds of moles on his body, wearing a hat on his bald head or applying a sunscreen.

For example, many assume painful or blistering sunburns early in life sets the stage for the skin cancer later on. While some studies show a small link, others show none. And even studies that do show an effect disagree on when the danger period for sunburns is supposed to be. Taken as a whole, this expert believes research is inconsistent and fails to make the case.

He even questions if the "epidemic" of melanoma proclaimed by many dermatologists exists. The definition of the cancer, he says, has changed over time, leading doctors to diagnose, remove and cure cancerous growths that once would not have been called melanoma. Avoiding sunlight or wearing a sunscreen, in his expert opinion, will offer any protection from melanomas.

I believe it is worsening omega-3:6 ratios, not sunscreens, that are the cause of the increase in skin cancers. In 2001, the National Academy of Sciences published a comprehensive review showing that the omega 6:3 ratio was the key to preventing skin cancer development.

An Australian study done over 10 years ago showed a 40 percent reduction in melanoma for those who were eating fish, which is rich in omega-3s. And this was without any attention to lowering omega-6 fats.

New York Times July 20, 2004

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