‘Phew wot a scorcher!’ Hope you made the most of it?

The Good Life Letter 

3rd July 2015

  • Why you should get a dose of daily sun
  • Bizarre fact of the day – exposure to the sun stops skin cancer
  • The sensible approach to enjoying a sunny summer
It didn’t take long did it?

Barely had the smiling face of the fiery orb in the sky begun to heat up our cold damp corner of Europe before the paranoia crew leapt into action.

Their voices rang clear with portents of doom for anyone who dared to loll about in the heat of the day.

Parents were being told to send their children to school prepared for thermal shocks, with plenty of sunscreen on them and extra to be applied at break times.

Even Wimbledon made provisions for the players to shelter in the fiercest heat (hadn’t they just been playing in Spain and the hot bits of France, so probably understand about the sun!).

The effect of the advice is the spectacle of kids walking to school caked in white sun block like an army of mini-Goths.

Or perhaps ghoulish vampires would be a more adequate description.
Having lambasted parents for not getting their kids out and about in the depths of cold and rainy times, the do-good brigade are now saying that we should all keep our little ones indoors.

This is a truly topsy-turvy world and no mistake!

For the past ten years or so we've been frightened by skin cancer stories, to the point where people lather themselves in factor 80 skin cream as soon as they leave the house in summer.

It's fine to warn people of overexposure. I mean, when I see people pouring tanning oil over themselves on a hot day, I wonder what it is that drives people to cook themselves in public parks.

They look like my famous barbeque garlic prawns!

But on the other hand, recent evidence shows that sunlight can actually help prevent the skin cancer condition known as malignant melanoma.

Could sunlight help fight cancer?

Researchers in Sweden have claimed that the sun's UV rays could reduce skin cancer risk by 40%.

You don't read that every day in your newspaper, do you?

This is backed up from some interesting conclusions by researchers at the University of Bristol, which said:

'Perhaps, while we await the conclusions of such formal analyses, those of us who enjoy spending time in the sun can rest (on our deck chair, sun lounger...or whatever) assured that the chance we will be one of the people dying from our tan is small.'

And then this from Marianne Berwick, Ph.D., a researcher and epidemiologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City:

'Anybody who tells you you're supposed to wear sunscreen... all day every day, even in the office, hasn't looked at the data.'

Okay, great... But then another statement by the Health Education Authority said that this kind of research could make people complacent about skin cancer.


So what's the truth?

The truth is, sunshine has so many benefits treating osteoporosis, kidney failure, multiple sclerosis, depression and psoriasis; yet this side's not promoted so heavily by the establishment.

Why not? Are they really scared everyone will run out and burn themselves to a cinder?

Or is it because of a more sinister reason...?

Is it, perhaps, because sunshine is free?

I mean you can't patent it, bottle it, put it in an expensive pill, tax it or export it. Maybe that's why it's not talked about too much.

Or perhaps it's because the enormously profitable sunscreen industry would have a lot to lose if people used their products less often...

...Who knows?

But until they find a way to tax sunlight and sell its benefits properly, let me give you some straight advice.

Cooking yourself in the sun is bad. Exposing yourself to the sun in the middle of the day, at its hottest, without protection, is just silly. Covering yourself in cooking fat and tinfoil and splaying yourself on a slab of concrete for ten hours... is suicidal.

But other than that, you should make sure you get at least 20 minutes in the sun each day. Ray's orders.

Because this is the only way you can boost your body's vitamin D intake for free. And the health benefits are enormous...

Sunlight vs. bone decay, cancer and high blood pressure
Vitamin D is produced when UV rays hit your skin.

It's actually a hormone, rather than a vitamin, produced by your own body.

When you get older, it gets harder to produce vitamin D. But in one study I saw, out of 300 young adults who were hospitalised for a variety of ailments, 57% had a deficiency in vitamin D.

So no matter your age, you need more of the stuff to...

 ...Strengthen your bones. In a study at Tufts University, a group of men and women over 65 experienced less bone density loss when they took 500mg or calcium and 700 IU of vitamin D daily for three years. Other studies have shown it can lower the chance of getting a hip fracture.

...Fight cancer. According to Dr Michael Holick, your skin synthesizes vitamin D and then the blood circulates it directly to the breasts, colon, and prostate. In these organs, researchers believe, vitamin D inhibits cancer cell growth.

...Lower blood pressure. The Lancet published a study in 1998 that showed that systolic and diastolic blood pressure was reduced after subjects received six to thirty minutes of ultraviolet B radiation three times a week for six weeks. The theory is that vitamin D helps your intestines absorb calcium, which is instrumental in helping your arteries control blood pressure.

So, it’s clear that getting a bit of sun on your body is going to give significant health benefits.

If you read Monday's additional letter about the misleading statements for sun creams you may well be thinking that today's letter is at odds with my advice to buy the Green People sun lotion.

But, in fact, this is all part of a sensible approach to getting the best of the sunny weather:

  • Use a protective sun cream to prevent all of the sun’s rays getting through.
  • Don’t spend all day out in full sunshine.
  • Avoid the midday sun when it is at its strongest.

I hope this helps you enjoy the sunshine this summer - without all the fear and paranoia.

Yours, as always




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