Vitamin D’s powers are well covered on this web site, but what we don’t consider often enough is whether supplements deliver as big a punch as sunlight. One recent study presents some interesting and important considerations around the “sunshine vitamin.”
A literature review compiled 50 studies that investigated cancer, vitamin D, and sun exposure. This came on the heels of a swell of research finding that vitamin D had beneficial effects on the most fatal of cancers: prostate cancer, lymphoma, colorectal cancer, and breast cancer.
They found that vitamin D supplements were consistently linked with protection against colorectal cancer. Excellent, right? But here’s the rub: exposure to sunlight was consistently linked with a reduced risk of all four cancers. And a lower risk of dying from those tumors. That’s right: go outside on a sunny day, expose your skin for 15 minutes or so (after which you should put on sunscreen), and you will be lowering your risk of cancer.
In 77% of studies, where a person lived (latitude-wise) and sun exposure levels were linked to cancer prevention. Next, 63% of studies showed that blood vitamin D levels are linked to cancer prevention. But the numbers drop a bit to 47% of studies looking at vitamin D from dietary supplements.
Vitamin D is amazingly important and we should be less afraid of the sun. It may be that the threat of skin cancer is making politicians and health officials hesitant about instructing people to get 15 minutes of sun exposure a day without sunscreen. But what kind of cancer protection are we not getting by hiding from the sun?
Sources for Today’s Articles:
Look to the Sun for Cancer Protection
van der Rhee, H., et al., “Sunlight, vitamin D and the prevention of cancer: a systematic review of epidemiological studies,” Eur. J. Cancer Prev. November 2009; 18(6): 458-75.