Written by Brittany Anderson
Sunlight: Panacea or Carcinogen?
Sunlight then and now: As we near the months of summer, the days are growing longer and we are finally getting sunny days in the 70’s and 80’s. This comfortable weather brings up concerns regarding sunlight and health. In modern times, we lather ourselves with sun screen, wear broad hats and wear sunglasses to protect us from the potentially cancer causing sun rays. Historically, sunlight has been used therapeutically to cure certain health conditions including depression, rickets and certain kinds of skin conditons. This is called heliotherapy or phototherapy. Even today, light blankets, billiblankets, are prescribed for babies born with jaundice. According to the University of Michigan, phototherapy is the most common form of treatment for jaundice. This treatment is used for a few days until the liver is mature enough to handle the bilirubin on its own. Let the Sunshine in: Interestingly, a new theory for the etiology of multiple sclerosis (MS) has been developed which is compatible with epidemiologic, biochemical and genetic evidence. A predisposition for the disease is held to result from the development of abnormal myelin during puberty. Vitamin D and calcium are proposed as being essential for normal myelination. Curtailed supplies of these substances from inadequate sunlight correlate with geographic regions of high risk of MS. The new theory postulates that the prevalence of MS is lower in sunny climates where vitamin D is abundant. So how can I enjoy the health benefits of sunlight without burning myself to a crisp and exposing myself to increased risks of skin cancer? Enjoy sunlight, but respect the sun’s power. Take in the most sunlight in the morning and evening before the sun’s
rays are the most intense. Limit yourself to 10-15 heliotherapy sessions at a time and wear protective clothing during the afternoon hours when the risks of sun bathing out weight the benefits. These common sense practices can give you the freedom to fearlessly enjoy the sun’s incredible health benefits this summer.
References: 1. P. Goldberg. (1974) Multiple sclerosis: vitamin D and calcium as environmental determinants of prevalence. International Journal of Environmental Studies 6:2-3, pages 121-129 2. Your Baby and Jaundice. University of Michigan.UMHS Newborn Care Committee, May 2005
About the Author: Brittany Anderson is a 14 th quarter Life University Chiropractic Student Intern for Health Sprout Chiropractic in Woodstock, Ga.