I have been undergoing surgeries for Basal Cell Carcinoma on my face recently, which has been quite distressing. What I have found frustrating is the blanket assumption family and medical professionals make, that it has been caused by the sun, that the cancer is a consequence of my spending too much time outdoors.
Call me stupid, but my instincts were telling me that was not the case. I suppose I had read contrary information during the last few years of researching into alternative therapies, of which cancer has been one of the most interesting subjects of debate. T.Y Bollinger who presents the nine part docu series ‘The Truth about Cancer’, (TTAC) lost both his mother and father to the disease and made it his mission to interview many practitioners all over the globe to search for the truth. Put simply, on the website he concludes that;
‘The ONLY answer that can explain the rise of cancer which correlates precisely with the increased incidence of cancer is toxins. This is especially so if you consider the various forms of radiation to be toxins.’
Dr David Jockers DC, MS, CSCS, writes for TTAC here and discusses the fact that toxic chemicals in sunscreen lotions and LACK of sunshine can be causative agents in the growth of cancers. Sunscreens are known to contain many dangerous substances such as; Octinoxate, PABA esters, Octisalate, Homosalate, Menthyl anthranilate, Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI), Avobenzone, Salicylates, Digalloyl trioleate, Cinnamates, Benzophenoones (dioxybenzone, oxybenzone).
But how could we be fed such conflicting evidence, and how do we know what is true? I decided to look at the science behind some of the more recent revelations that sunshine may actually be a preventative method rather than a cause of cancer, and the evidence appears to be there, in this pubmed report on albino mice, it concluded;
‘Sun exposure is associated with increased survival from melanoma.’
Further investigation upturns many scientific articles that seem to correlate similar results, such as the study in America that shows that cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM) is associated with INCREASED use of sunscreens. The organisation Environmental Working Group (EWG) in the USA has been conducting research into the most popular sun screens and their safety, and in 2007 only one quarter of products were considered safe;
‘Almost three-fourths of the products we examined offer inferior sun protection or contain worrisome ingredients like oxybenzone, a hormone disruptor, or retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A that may harm skin. And despite scant evidence, the government still allows most sunscreens to claim they help prevent skin cancer.’
Crucially it would appear that products containing the minerals zinc or titanium oxide are safer than those containing retinyl palmitate (vitamin A), which has been shown to be carcinogenic when exposed to the sun after topical application.
Similarly there is a tremendous amount of evidence out there that low vitamin D levels is associated with many different types of cancer, and of course the best and most effective source of vitamin D is the sun. Is it possible that we have been fed a load of hype from the cancer and sunscreen industry? (which is of course part of the Big-Pharma industry).
I had my vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) levels tested in the UK (through the NHS but paid for personally) and in the USA, and…
In the UK I was told that they were well within range. In the USA I was told that at 21nmol/L my level was insufficient.
My practitioner was very concerned about how low my levels were and the first thing he did was prescribe a very high dose of 50,000 iu’s three times a week (vitamin D by the way, stays a long time in the body and you don’t need to supplement daily). Around the same time I read an article in Life Extension magazine which revealed some apparently skewed statistics on vitamin D supplementation, and claimed that Big Pharma may be behind trying to reverse the trend towards it, after all profit is made from the sick and not the healthy when it comes to the pharmaceutical industry right? After the report; ‘Effect of Vitamin D Supplementation on Blood Pressure’ was published, mainstream media appeared to jump on the back of it with the USA’s CBS news and the UK’s Independent’s Tim Spector publishing articles damning the benefits of D3.
Whilst D3 can be obtained in small amounts through our diets, by eating oily fish and eggs, by far the best source is from the sun;
‘You can also get vitamin D from supplements and a small number of foods such as liver, oily fish and eggs are also good source of vitamin D, however, you would need to eat an enormous amount to keep your levels in the desired range. The farmed fish typically consumed in the UK may contain less vitamin D content than wild fish and in the UK, cows’ milk is generally not a good source of vitamin D because it isn’t fortified as it is in other countries. However, most people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need by eating a healthy balanced diet and by getting some summer sun.’
The UK’s National Osteoporosis Society recommends levels to be higher than what the NHS felt to be adequate at the time of my testing;
‘According to the new advice, measuring serum 25 hydroxyvitamin (25OHD) is the best way of assessing patients’ vitamin D status; below 30 nmol/L indicates deficiency, while 30–50 nmol/L is inadequate in some groups and above 50 nmol/L is usually sufficient.’
But Rick Fischer, author of healandlivehealthy.com delves much deeper into vitamin D supplementation, and makes a very interesting point, which is that;
‘Vitamin D directly lowers Potassium and Vitamin A levels, and raises Calcium levels.’
So supplementing with D is more complicated that we may have been lead to believe. The balance between Calcium and Potassium effects the Thyroid, and furthermore, the delicate balance between Calcium and Potassium can effect Sodium, and high levels of Sodium can lead to a stress response in the body and consequent inflammation. As stress increases, Magnesium can drop. Low levels of Magnesium is linked to all kinds of health problems and immune dysfunction, and so continues the complex degeneration of health associated with so many chronic disease of these modern days. Rick Fischer makes some other very interesting points when he goes on to talk about Vitamin A and also Copper;
‘Vitamin A is necessary to decrease inflammation. However Vitamin D lowers Vitamin A. Even more dangerously, both Magnesium and Potassium are necessary for the body’s anti-inflammatory response, and yet, as we’ve already looked at, Vitamin D lowers both these essential minerals. Without the necessary anti-inflammatory response, a host of disease processes arise, and arteries also become damaged. Calcium and cholesterol then get drawn to these sites of arterial damage and plaque builds up, leading to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Furthermore, Vitamin A is necessary for the production of ceruloplasmin, a protein that binds to Copper to make it bioavailable. Unfortunately, Vitamin D lowers Vitamin A which lowers ceruloplasmin which makes Copper bio-UNavailable. This in turn leads to many of the negative side effects associated with Copper toxicity, while also raising bio-unavailable Calcium – weakening the bone matrix and contributing to a higher risk of osteoporosis.’ http://healandlivehealthy.com/
At this point, I begin to feel overwhelmed by information, and wonder if we will ever get to the bottom of how to balance our Vitamin D levels, only to be reminded that ‘Vitamin’ D is not a vitamin at all! Vitamin D3 is actually a hormone produced by the kidneys that helps to control the concentration of calcium in the blood and is vital for the development of strong bones. But that is not the only function of vitamin D3, more recent research has been shown to prove that D3 has many other immune boosting and cancer fighting properties. A major research paper by Plos One In April 2016, concluded that;
‘Serum levels above 40 ng/ml were associated with substantial REDUCTION in risk of all invasive cancers combined.’
But Rick goes on further to say that the way in which we are tested for D may not be very accurate, and also stipulates that there are two forms of D3, active and stored and often it is only the active D3 that is tested in blood serum.
‘There are some people however that can benefit from Vitamin D supplementation, but this can only be determined by first understanding your unique mineral levels as shown through a Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA). Blood testing for this purpose is highly inadequate as blood serum levels can fluctuate day to day and do not accurately represent stored tissue mineral levels. Through HTMA testing we can see if a person is a fast metabolizer (as defined when the Calcium to Phosphorus ratio is below 2.6) or a slow metabolizer (when the Ca/P ratio is above 2.6). Over 80% of the population are slow metabolizers, and for these people, who generally already have higher levels of Calcium and lower levels of Potassium, Vitamin D supplementation can have very adverse affects. Fast metabolizes however can find benefit from Vitamin D supplementation is it can help bring better balance to their mineral pattern’.
Now one can begin to see just how complex treating chronic diseases can be, never can we isolate one deficiency and expect a quick fix, all of our vitamins and minerals, hormones, enzymes and our bodies different systems work in harmony with each other, and this article perhaps demonstrates how various Functional Medicine tests can be vital in understanding what our bodies really need. Often blood serum levels just don’t give us the accuracy that we require to unravel dis-ease.
Finding a balance between adequate sun exposure without overexposure would seem to be the obvious answer when it comes to the dangers and benefits of the suns rays, many advisory websites steer towards avoiding the use of sunscreens and instead covering up, wearing wide brimmed hats and finding shade during the hottest times of the day.
As we pass through the seasons and embrace the Autumn months, alas at least I can stop worrying about getting too much sun, and grasp the last rays we are endowed with, in awe. For nature seems to know best when it comes to sunshine, and our health.