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Thursday, December 06, 2007

If you have melanoma, should you go out and sunbathe?

Marianne Berwick and her colleagues, at the New Mexico Cancer Institute, found malignant melanoma patients with evidence of continued sun exposure had a 60% mortality reduction compared to patients who did not. That implies a robust treatment effect from sunlight.
Gary Moller comments:
Here is my latest in a steady procession of articles over several years intended to present an alternative take on the campaign to have all of us be cave dwellers, fearful of the sun.

I have privately said to friends that the first thing I would do if I had melanoma is get it surgically removed and then I would go and sunbathe that same day! The immediate reaction of others is I must be nuts.

But let's think this through: People do not die from melanoma - they die from the secondary tumours that spread through the body. To prevent that, you first want to get rid of the cancerous melanoma cells, quickly and cleanly. Then you want to ensure that your body has the most robust immune system you can give it. Among other things, that means high levels of vitamin D which is essential for a robust immune system. The best way to quickly boost your vitamin D is to sunbathe. If any of those nasty melanoma cancer cells got past the amputation and maybe the chemotherapy and the radiation therapy, I want to be damn sure that my body is ready to fight them.

My experience, sadly, is that the first thing people with any kind of cancer go and do is they don a floppy hat, dark glasses, long sleeved shirt, trousers and slop on the SPF40 sunscreen.

There is now a ton of research evidence that high levels of vitamin D has a preventive effect on the development of many kinds of cancer and now there is a growing body of evidence that high levels of vitamin D may prolong life expectancy among cancer patients. It dismays me that I have never once come across a seriously ill person who has been tested for vitamin D deficiency. Where I have been able to get an ill person to obtain a blood test, their levels are invariably way too low.

If are ill and your doctor tells you not to take vitamin D, ask him or her three questions as suggested by Dr John Cannel of the Vitamin D Council:
1) How do you convert ng/mls to nmol/Ls?
2) How many IU in a nanogram?
3) How do you spell "cholecalciferol?"

If he or she doesn't know how to measure it, weigh it, or spell it, chances are he or she doesn't know much about it. Look after yourself - find a better informed doctor.

Important: Don't get me wrong - I am not advocating you go out and fry yourself in the sun. Be careful and never get burned.

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