Amazing Wellness - - EDITOR'S NOTE -

NOW THAT SUM­MER HAS AR­RIVED, SO HAVE TRIPS TO the beach or lake, loung­ing by the pool, and gen­er­ally spend­ing more time in the great out­doors. But gone are the days of bak­ing in the sun for hours (of­ten with lib­eral amounts of Cop­per­tone oil and lit­er­ally fry­ing our skin), as I did in the ’80s. Many health-con­scious peo­ple avoid spend­ing time in the sun at all for fear of de­vel­op­ing skin can­cer, or else use sun­screens lib­er­ally. We’ve been told for years that if we spend any time out­side, even in the win­ter months and on cloudy days, we should pro­tect our skin by slather­ing our­selves with sun­screen. But it seems in the process, many of us have be­come dan­ger­ously low in vi­ta­min D—a vi­ta­min that re­cent stud­ies show may be can­cer-protective.

A re­cent study that an­a­lyzed data from 107 coun­tries found that rates of pan­cre­atic can­cer were high­est in coun­tries with the least amount of sun­light—even af­ter fac­tors such as smok­ing and obe­sity were taken into ac­count. Re­searchers spec­u­late that low vi­ta­min D lev­els could be the rea­son. There have been sim­i­lar find­ings for other can­cers. Vi­ta­min D seems to ben­e­fit many other as­pects of our health as well, such as boost­ing im­mu­nity and the abil­ity to fight off in­fec­tion, and (sur­pris­ingly) re­duc­ing risk of in­con­ti­nence (see “Gotta Go?” on p. 28). Even our pets seem to ben­e­fit from the sun­shine vi­ta­min—one study found that pets with the high­est vi­ta­min D lev­els that were ad­mit­ted to an­i­mal hos­pi­tals were most likely to sur­vive se­ri­ous ill­ness.

Stud­ies sug­gest that diet can go a long way in guard­ing against skin can­cer, specif­i­cally the Mediter­ranean diet (see “The Healthy Skin Diet” on p. 56). This diet is high in fish, olive oil, fruits and veg­eta­bles, nuts, and it even in­cludes red wine. One rea­son this diet may be protective is that fish, es­pe­cially salmon and tuna, is rich in es­sen­tial fatty acids and niacin (vi­ta­min B3). This past May, a re­port pre­sented at the an­nual meet­ing of the Amer­i­can So­ci­ety of Clin­i­cal On­col­ogy found that peo­ple who took niaci­namide sup­ple­ments re­duced their risk of de­vel­op­ing skin can­cer by 23 per­cent.

When it comes to the sun, it seems that the best ad­vice is mod­er­a­tion, as in most things. En­joy time out­side, but don’t burn. Most ex­perts sug­gest 15 min­utes per day of sun­shine, with some parts of the skin ex­posed, such as legs and arms, avoid­ing peak hours (10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.). Use sun­screens if spend­ing a lot of time in the sun (choose nat­u­ral brands free of po­ten­tially danger­ous chem­i­cals). And be sure to take your vi­ta­min D. Here’s to an amaz­ing sum­mer!

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