If you make your living off of treating people with melanoma, you might (really, might) know a thing or two about skin cancer. Dr. Angus Dalgleish says he used to advise people slather on the sunblock and avoid the sun like vampires. But now, his tune has changed and he has started advising his patients differently. The crux of his advice: reduce your cancer risk by increasing your sun exposure.
It all boils down to vitamin D.
Our body requires the sun to produce vitamin D; that’s why it’s called the sunshine vitamin. The sun is the absolute best source of vitamin D. And, Dalgleish says, vitamin D is one of the best weapons against skin cancer.
His interest in the vitamin D–cancer connection began when he read that researchers at Leeds University discovered low vitamin D levels to be a major risk factor for melanoma. In a world where we were told the sun caused this deadly form of skin cancer, the research was groundbreaking.
Dr. Dalgleish began testing his patients’ vitamin D levels and found something remarkable. While he expected some to be deficient, he found nearly all of them were deficient in vitamin D. Remember, these were melanoma patients—people already fighting the disease.
“If we supplement people who are low they may do better than expected. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if vitamin D turns out to be more useful in improving outcomes in cases of early relapse than drugs costing £10,000 a year,” said Dalgleish. “I spent a decade studying interferon for which the NHS paid £10,000 annually per patient for years for very little benefit. Vitamin D is much more likely to give a benefit in my view.”
Now, his patients supplement with vitamin D. And Dalgleish himself does too—about 1,000 IU three times each week. (A much higher dose can be taken).
An industry has been built off of scaring us into thinking the sun will hurt us. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Certainly, going out in the heat of summer and getting blistery-burnt isn’t good for you, and we aren’t suggesting it is. But, moderate exposure to the sun isn’t only good for you, it could keep you healthy and cancer-free.