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Does Avoiding the Sun Shorten Your Lifespan?


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avoiding the sun, avoid sun exposure
Avoiding the sun is many times just as bad as getting too much sun. Photick/Odilon Dimier/Thinkstock

A few weeks ago I was at a conference in Tucson, Arizona. Two things really surprised me while I was there. First, quite a few people ordered egg-white omelets for breakfast. Huh? Didn’t they get the memo that dietary cholesterol doesn’t increase the risk of heart disease, or even raise blood cholesterol levels? Egg-white omelets are so 1995!

Second, I noticed that a number of people were slathering themselves with sunscreen and wearing long sleeve and pants or wide-brimmed hats every time they stepped out the door in order to avoid the sun.

This kind of “sun phobia” is the unfortunate—but inevitable—result of national guidelines in many countries over the past 30–40 years advising strict restriction of sun exposure.

Too much sun exposure isn’t a good thing, but not enough may be even worse. Read this to find out why.

These guidelines were based on the observation that light-skinned people of European ancestry living in Northern Australia had the highest risk of malignant melanoma, the deadly form of skin cancer, in the world. However, as you’ll see below, applying guidelines that were originally developed for people living in an area with a high ultraviolet (UV) index, such as Northern Australia, to areas with limited sunshine and a much lower UV index (such as many parts of North America and Europe) is not only unnecessary, it may be harmful.

Not Enough Sun Exposure May Be Just as Harmful as Too Much

In a new study, researchers tracked the sun exposure habits of 30,000 Swedish women for 20 years. They found that the women who strictly avoided the sun during that period had a two-fold greater risk of early death than women who received normal amounts of sun exposure.

What’s more, they found that women with normal sun exposure habits were not at significantly increased risk for malignant melanoma or melanoma-related death. (1) This is consistent with the results of a previous Swedish study that followed 38,000 women for 15 years and found that sun exposure was associated with reduced risk of both cardiovascular and overall death. (2)

I’d like to emphasize that these studies are observational in nature, and thus do not prove causality. It’s possible that the women who got more sun had healthier diets and lifestyles than those who avoided the sun, and those factors led to the lower mortality, rather than the sun exposure.

However, it’s also possible—and probable, in my opinion—that completely avoiding does increase the risk of death. There are several possible mechanisms that explain why:

Vitamin D

One of the primary benefits of sunlight is its ability to stimulate vitamin D production. Vitamin D deficiency is a major predisposing factor in at least 17 varieties of cancer, as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, birth defects, infectious disease and more. (3) It’s not a stretch, therefore, to imagine that women who avoid the sun have lower vitamin D levels (especially in areas with limited sun, like Sweden) and thus a higher risk of death.

Blood Pressure

Scientists observed a connection between sunlight and cardiovascular disease as far back as the 1970s, when clinical trials on hypertension showed that blood pressure was consistently lower in summer than winter. (4) Later studies showed that the both the prevalence of hypertension and average blood pressure is directly correlated with latitude; in other words, those living at northern and southern latitudes (with less sunlight) had more hypertension and higher average blood pressure, while those living closer to the equator had less hypertension and lower average blood pressure. (5)

Clinical experiments have also provided direct evidence that ultraviolet light reduces blood pressure. In one study, researchers exposed one group of people to lamps that gave off ultraviolet light as well as heat, and another group to lamps that only gave off heat. In the group that received both heat and ultraviolet light, blood pressure dropped significantly after just one hour of exposure. (6)

How does sunlight lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease? Sunlight stimulates the production of a chemical called nitric oxide in our skin. Nitric oxide helps our blood vessels to relax and expand, which in turn reduces blood pressure. This is important because high blood pressure is one of the strongest risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and even relatively small reductions in blood pressure can dramatically reduce the deaths from both heart attack and stroke.

For example, a drop of 20 mmHg in systolic blood pressure (blood pressure is expressed as a fraction, i.e. 120/80, and “systolic” refers to the number on the top) leads to a two-fold reduction in the overall risk of death in both men and women between the ages of 40 and 69. (7)

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Sunlight may also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease—and by extension, the risk of death—by putting the brakes on inflammation. (8) These beneficial effects of sunlight are likely to extend to other organs and tissues as well, since both blood pressure and inflammation have widespread effects in the body.

Immune Function

Another effect of sunlight that isn’t mediated by vitamin D is its ability to regulate immune function. Studies have shown that the the more hours of sun there are where you were born, the lower the risk you’ll develop multiple sclerosis. (9)

Along the same lines, the more exposure to sun people have where they work and live as adults, the lower their rates of MS, and relapse rates for MS are higher in winter than in summer. (10) Evidence for benefit from sunlight is strong for other autoimmune diseases as well, such as type 1 diabetes.

Other Effects

Exposure to sunlight may improve endocrine function, elevate mood (via its effects on certain brain chemicals like serotonin) and increase DNA repair capacity, all of which could conceivably extend lifespan. (11)

The “Goldilocks” Effect: How Much Sun Exposure Is “Just Right”?

With all of this in mind, how much sun exposure is “just right”? How can we minimize our risk of skin cancer while optimizing vitamin D levels and getting the additional cardiovascular and immune benefits of sunlight?

Just follow these guidelines for you and your family members:

  • If you have fair skin, aim for spending about half the amount of time in the sun that it takes for your skin to turn pink (without sunscreen) two to three days a week. This could be as little as 10 minutes for those with very fair skin. If you have dark skin, you may need up to two hours per day to generate the same amount of vitamin D (which is why supplementation may be necessary for those with darker skin).
  • Never burn yourself in the sun. Cover yourself with light clothing, wear a hat, shade yourself with an umbrella, tree or canopy, wear sunglasses, and/or use a safe sunscreen to prevent sunburn if you’re going to be exposed to sunlight for a prolonged period. (But see the section below for important information about sunscreen.)
  • Pay attention to the time of day, latitude and season. This probably goes without saying, but you need less sun exposure at mid-day during the summer on the equator to generate a given amount of vitamin D than in the late afternoon during the winter in New York City. Vary your exposure accordingly.
  • Infants under 6 months old don’t have much of the protective pigment (melanin) in their skin. It’s best to avoid direct sun exposure at mid-day, use protective clothing and a hat, and limit exposure to the morning or late afternoon hours. Infants may be particularly susceptible to the toxic effects of some sunscreen ingredients, so use clothing or shade when possible.

Sun protection is important if you plan to be out in the sun for a long enough time to get burned, but most sunscreens on the market are not beneficial or even safe. Stephan Guyenet explains on his blog how typical sunscreen fails to prevent melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Most commercial sunscreens have a slew of chemical ingredients such as fragrances, parabens, alcohols, chemical solvents and petroleum oils that break down when exposed to sunlight.

Unfortunately, even natural sunscreen materials like zinc oxide could be problematic. (12)

Researchers have recently discovered that, in vitro, zinc oxide may generate free radicals when exposed to UV radiation, which could damage cells and raise the risk of cancer. (13) More testing needs to be done, but this preliminary research shows that even natural sunscreen ingredients could have unforeseen consequences to your skin health. Until we know more, however, using a natural, mineral based sunscreen is still a better choice than the chemical sunscreens that are commonly available.

Ultimately, the best way to protect yourself from melanoma—while ensuring you still get the benefits of sun exposure—is to tan gradually, without burning.

Final Thoughts

It’s entirely possible that public health recommendations that significantly restrict sun exposure may be doing more harm than good in regions with limited sunshine and a low UV index, such as many parts of Europe, the UK, and North America. Yet many people are unaware that the advice they’ve been given about avoiding sun exposure doesn’t reflect the current scientific evidence on this topic.

This reminds me of the situation we’re in with dietary fat and cholesterol. The mainstream media and medical establishment spent decades scaring us away from egg yolks, cheese, meat, and other high-fat, high-cholesterol foods. The result of this advice was an increase in the consumption of highly refined carbohydrates—which, ironically, contributes to the epidemics of metabolic and cardiovascular disease that fat and cholesterol restriction was supposed to address.

As I mentioned in a recent podcast, the current evidence suggests that (on average) dietary cholesterol and saturated fat do not affect blood cholesterol levels or increase the risk of heart disease. Yet I think it’s safe to say that most people still perceive a breakfast of cold cereal, toast, and OJ to be “healthier” than bacon and eggs. It took years to convince people that natural fats found in real foods are bad for them, and unfortunately it’s probably going to take years to relieve them of the burden of that misunderstanding.

I’m afraid the same will be true for sun exposure. I often see parents putting sunscreen on their kids as soon as they step out the door, or adults that wear long sleeves and big hats whenever they go outside. Current research doesn’t support this, but I think it’s going to take a while for the public policy to change and the message to get out. (Though you can help speed that along by sharing this article with people you know that are still sun-phobic.)

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    • Interesting information. Thanks.

      Indicated that cholesterol and D3 are almost similar molecular.

      D3 synthesized from cholesterol.

      Sulfate makes D3 water soluble

      Reseachers don’t understand how cholesterol transports itself.

      She thinks it is the Sulfates connected to synthesized D3 that allows this to happen.

      Unsufficient sulfated cholesterol can cause insulin resistance, oxidation, calcification etc

      Sunscreens (Vitamin A – Retinoic Acid) interfere with synthesis of D3

      Recommends the use of sun lamps if you live in northern climates. Get plenty of sun. Plus eat sulfur containing food – even beer. Throw out sunscreens.

  1. I get compliments on my skin all the time and I no longer sunburn or need sunscreen. As a fair-skinned person, this was one of the most surprising and delightful outcomes of switching to a nutrient-dense, Weston Price-style diet, eating plenty of traditional fats and oils and getting the harmful, man-made versions out of my system. This means pasture-fed tallow, lard, eggs, butter, raw dairy, organ meats, meats, coconut oil, smaller wild-caught fish, cod liver oil and olive oil. These and lacto-fermented foods support gut and immune function, and thus skin health.

    I practice moderate tanning several times a week in summer, with limbs and face exposed. After some relatively short exposures in the spring to build a nice base tan, I find I’m good to go for the summer. I can go for quite a while without turning pink. If I do get a little pink, it quickly turns to tan. This was not the case in my earlier years, eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) and then a low-fat, deficient vegetarian diet. I feel that the reactivity of my skin has gone down as the nutrient density and careful food sourcing/preparation have gone up.

    • I am fair skinned and light tanned. I don’t use sunscreen. I think the Astaxanthin helps. I go to the pool often. I am there for about 75 minutes but in water most of the time.

      If I was out in the sun for longer periods, I’d cover most of myself and wear a hat. I’d just use a healthy natural sunscreen for just a few small areas.

      I think getting sun is healthy. I just use moderation.

      • +1 for the astaxanthin. I’ve seen that even very fair-skinned Irish types can get a light tan and not burn while supplementing with it.

  2. my bloodpressure is really good on hot days,but goes up when it is cooler.this is problematic,ido not want more meds. any suggestions? G.

  3. I’m fair skinned and never wear sunscreen. This because I usually only get sun in the early morning when I’m gardening and that’s not every day. I don’t enjoy frying myself in a lawn chair so, I don’t really get a lot sun.
    I do take a Vitamin D supplement daily and have not had a cold or flu for the past 3 years. No colon cancer as of last, recent scope. Maybe it’s the placebo effect but hey, I’ll take it!

  4. Great timing. Just this morning a medical doctor was on TV telling people to use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 minimum and to apply it twice to the body, cover up, etc. If the sun is that bad people who work outdoors at resorts, theme parks, landscapers, etc should all be getting skin cancer….

  5. I know that sun is good for you, but having lived in Tucson for a while, I can tell you right now why people are slathering themselves with sunscreen. They’re in the desert. I have had bad sunburns even while wearing a hat from sun reflected off of the side walk in the summer and that was just from a 15min walk. I’m not even very pale skinned. I learned my lesson pretty quickly that sunscreen is not optional if you are spending any time outside on a 100 degree plus day. Heck I’ve even gotten sunburned while wearing low SPF sunscreen because the sun/heat combination is so strong.

    In the winter, sit out in the sun all you want. In the summer, you better protect yourself.

  6. I grew up in Australia and my family never used sunscreen – my mum avoided chemicals at all costs and I was allergic to it! In my twenties, I was a geologist, spending all day every day out in the broiling sun and have been badly burnt three times [when I was five, my mum covered me in honey as an antiseptic and made me sit covered in it, till the inflammation died down]. Anyway, I should have terrible sun damage. But skin doctors are super surprised when I tell them my age and origin. Apparently my skin looks years younger than it ought and better than many of my age born in England. I firmly believe this is due to our diet and spiritual outlook – we lived chemical free, on macrobiotic and paleo-like food, being thankful for these gifts, before it was in vogue. No way known am I changing my habits and I’m so happy that others are speaking out about the insane pseudo-science propaganda of modern advertising against good food, sun or trusting our intuition on these matters.

  7. Great post Chris! I have been spreading the message on this topic myself, and have had quite a few interesting conversations as a result.

    I’m a fair-skinned blue-eyed guy, and I’ve learned how to deal with intense sun with no sunscreen. Balancing w-6/w-3 is important, and so is having a nutrient dense diet in general. Gelatin seems to help too.

    I like your recommendations for exposure. It’s just about exactly what I’d recommend. I didn’t know about infants not having much melanin, however. That’s good to know!


  8. I am not sun-phobic and fully understand the importance of getting sun exposure. However I live in Tucson and know why you found people here slathering on sunscreen. We see badly sunburned tourists here all the time that don’t understand how intense the sun is here. Many of our outdoor attractions have sunscreen dispensers in the restrooms! In the summer our UV index normally tops out at 11. Many places never see a UV index that high. UV index is affected by many things besides latitude, season, and time of day – cloud cover, air pollution, altitude, and even your surrounding surface. Whether you’re outside in the snow, at the beach, or picnicking on a lawn can affect how much UV radiation is reflected back at you by up to 40 fold.

    However, after living here a year I was tested for vitamin D and was deficient. I was surprised considering I spend time outside every day and am of northern European ancestry so should be an efficient vitamin D producer. My routine now is to get controlled sun. This mean sitting outside for 10-20 minutes a few times a week around midday. But when I’m hiking or biking I cover up relying mainly on clothing and a hat instead of sunscreen. I use a mineral sunscreen on my face. I had a precancerous spot on my nose so am not taking chances with that.

    Everyone’s circumstances are unique and there is no “one size fits all” for how much sun one needs to stay healthy.

    • I agree that no one size fits all. If Florida were on a high plateau then sun exposure there could be a problem.

  9. I stopped using sunscreen a few years ago, but my mother had a small cancerous spot removed from the bridge of her nose a while back and is one of the people who wears long sleeves, pants, and hats to avoid the sun. Do the recommendations change for those who have previously had skin cancer? Is it still safe for her to be in direct sunlight for some time, provided it is not in the middle of the day or would it be better for her to supplement with vitamin D?

  10. What about those of us who simply seem to not tan? I used to be able to tan when I was younger, but even with good Vitamin D levels now all I do is develop freckles and moles and burn.

    Also, do you have an opinion on the theory that you can only get sunlight that stimulates Vitamin D production from UVB rays, which you can only get when the sun is above 50 degrees of the horizon (something that happens here in the Bay Area from around 1030 to 1530 in the summer, but for shorter times in the spring/fall, and eventually not at all from mid-October to mid-March)? There’s a Navy website where you can calculate how high the sun is above the horizon depending on the date and your location.

  11. Big difference between nano zinc oxide and non nano. You failed to mention that. Also, many people, including myself, will pay no attention to this article. I take 5000IU daily of D3 and have no worries about this. Sun damage is cumulative and the UV rays age the skin the fastest. Also what was not mentioned was that older people and dark skin people do not absorb D3 from the sun near as well as younger people. Hence the need for supplementation.

    • Then why even comment if you ignore the article? If you HAD read the article you would see there are other benefits specific to UV exposure that D3 supplementation cannot duplicate. Hey, you want to live in the dark, slap all kinds of stuff on your body to block UVs, be my guest, but stop trying to criticize the rest of us who enjoy some sunlight. It’s not like we evolved in direct daylight for millions of years or anything…

    • It’s amazing how many people just assume they get enough sun. “I go outside” is something I hear constantly. To which I reply, “You go outside enough during peak UVB hours to the point where you have a nice golden tan?” And then begins a lecture typically. People should get their blood levels checked if they do not tan regularly during UVB producing hours, and even then every few years get checked anyway. Vitamin D is something better to err on the high side than low (not really high, but around 100 ng/mL would be preferable to being under 30 from all the research I have read). Every cell in the body has a vitamin D receptor (along with thyroid hormone receptor), so that indicates this isn’t just another vitamin (which is technically incorrect as D is actually a hormone) but a major player in body mechanisms and genetic expression. Of course don’t be foolish with sun exposure and risk burns but the paranoia I continue to hear (even on this website’s comments) is completely backwards. The concern should be about NOT getting enough sun first and foremost, especially in kids as they typically do not take supplements. Take the time and teach your kids how to get the most out of the sun while not burning. Start slow and build up a base tan during the summer (or keep one year round like I personally do with a properly designed tanning unit, like the kind Dr. Mercola sells). Once that is achieved then kids don’t have to worry nearly as much about getting burned and of course they continue getting crucial UVB exposure as they play outside. But instead most parents buy all these chemical filled UV blockers. How much time do parents spend applying the stuff over the years? I would reckon working on a base tan would not take much longer. It’s just a different habit.

      Trust me, it’s great having a tan as I can go outside at any time and not be worried about burning within minutes (for longer treks I wear clothes; I haven’t used sunscreen in 5 years except at a waterpark because all I had on was swim trunks for 8 hours in direct Colorado sun). I do often wear a hat however to keep the sun off my face as the skin is considerably thinner there than the rest of the body (Mercola has tanning units that instead of UVs they actually emit red and blue wavelengths in the face region to assist cell growth and repair). I never wear sunglasses either as they block blue wavelengths which also play a role in our brains (however I have brown eyes and tan well; blue eyed fair skinned folks might need to temper SOME rays if outside a lot, but I would still recommend not immediately putting on shades).

        • I mistyped again! I should just spell it out: Vitamin D should be between 50-80 nanograms per deciliter.

          • I heard recently from a doctor that a magnesium deficiency will prevent the body from properly regulating/making vitamin D. So if you’re not getting enough magnesium, it’s possible that you could spend ALL of the time in the sun, and still have low vitamin D.

            • Also, supplementing with vitamin D is not so helpful if you’re magnesium deficient, so it’s something to keep in mind as well, whether you go outside or not.

  12. Thanks so much for this post, the gist of which I’m familiar with – but, for me there is a problem. I absolutely hate the sun; it feels not energizing and calming, but debilitating, enervating, painful, etc. I’m very fair with blue eyes – but I don’t know if that’s the reason. When it’s hot I automatically run to the shady side of the street, and if there isn’t one, I’m inwardly miserable.

    So, I wonder if sun is good for me, when I seem to physically recoil from it? Any thoughts on this?!!

    • I don’t mean to be rude, but have you had your DNA checked recently to make sure you’re not a some type of vampire or zombie?

      Or maybe see a shrink to see if there’s was some physical abuse in your past perpetrated by the sun?

      Just a couple of serious suggestions.

      • I have never heard anything so stupid. Have you not heard of bio-individuality. Plenty of very fair people are super sensitive to the sun. Not only do they burn but they are over sensitive to the heat as well.

        • Haha – I wasn’t going to respond to this comment. But you did, so – thanks.

        • At age 71, I just had my first surgery for skin cancer (basal cell) on my lower jaw area — and the dermatologist keeps spraying suspicious looking pre-cancerous areas on my face every few months. Apparently these are from the times in my youth that I sunbathed and/or got sunburned, going without sunscreen (which we never knew about way back then), and are just now starting to surface. I’m fair-skinned from East European descent, and live in Northern California. So it bothers me greatly when I hear people recommending that we get out in the sun and ignore the cautionary remarks we might hear about in the media. I’m proof that they’re based on reality! Whenever I’m outside now, I always use a sunscreen of at least 30 and wear a hat and sunglasses (my eyes also show sensitivity to the sun). Also, be aware that you can get too much sun from reflected light from the pavement or beaches.

          • Thank you for this comment, I completely agree! I live in Arizona and am 32 and just came back from the dermatologist who sprayed a spot on my face that was pre-cancerous.. and I hardly go out in the sun for a long amount of time. Living in Arizona, those people he described as covering and up and such, thats how we have to be because we are exposed to extreme sun conditions EVERY SINGLE DAY, not just on vacation!

    • The science is though to digest, so I’ll try to keep it simple.
      Seeking shade means your issues are with either/or UVA & UVB spectrum of the sun, not the visual color spectrum that is light. Many people for varying reasons, cannot tolerate UVA which is highest 1-2 hours after sunrise, all the way to 1-2 hours before sunset, so basically all day. The health benefits of the sun is the conversion of UVB into vitamin d in your body. UVB is present in the sun 2 hours before & after solar noon, during the summer. There is no UVB present in winter sun in the USA. Be grateful that you are fair skin, as it’s a blessing with your situation, as you don’t need much contact with sun to produce the hormone. Also being fair skinned, I take 2-3 minute breaks 4 times b/w 11am &2pm where i go outside with shorts & no shirt. I seek shade all other times b/w the times 9&6.

  13. I pondered this very same thing while celebrating my 8th year of no evident disease at stage 3b recurrent metastatic melanoma. I wrote about it on my own little blogspot that I often neglect: http://barefootpaleoblog.blogspot.com/. Love to hear your thoughts, everyone. (I’m tough, I can take it.)

    • I’m very heartened by your good news. I’m in my fifth year of dealing with metastatic melanoma. If I stay alive until October, I’ll have outlived 50% of people who got the same diagnosis as me at the same time. With the fantastic new drugs, odds are looking really good. I don’t use sunscreen at all anymore, except when I’m going to be in a LOT of sun. For instance, when I visit my in-laws on Fripp Island, SC (so close to your Hilton Head!) and go to the beach. Even my dermatologist told me to get more sun when she saw my initial vitamin D levels soon after diagnosis (they were at 9). Anyway, I love to hear good news from melanoma survivors anywhere, so thank you for the link and I send you really good wishes.

  14. Unfortunately, in my day job I work in cubicle row, away from natural sunlight. Most of my scant free time is spent studying, which I try to do next to a large west-facing window that provides ample natural light. Is this at all helpful in combating the effects of a lack of sun exposure, or does the glass screen out the helpful radiation and convert it to infrared?

    • Good for the eyes (light spectrum), but glass only allows UVA through while blocking the UVB. It’s the UVB (present usually 2 hours before to 2 after solar noon during the summer months in the north east) that uses cholesterol on the skin to produce the hormone Vitamin D in the body.

  15. Thanks for the info (even if misguided), Chris. I am afraid that like most folks, you tie UV RADIATION to daytime (heat) radiation. But if you think about it, the sun does not generate any radiation on circadian cycles but the cycles themselves exist due to daily planetary rotation. The only space-filter between the earth and the sun are the Van Allen Belts. They do deflect some magnetic radiation, but no UV. the only effective block is the Earth’s mantle.
    Is there nighttime-UV? absolutely! But it depends on lunar cycles. This UV is reflected sunlight … off lunar surfaces. It wains and peaks and even disappears in typical lunar rhythms.
    The major reason this should not be simply dismissed is the very huge microbial/fungal death toll that results from this UV exposure. It peaks vitamin D3 levels by sleeping outdoors (with no glass blockage).
    The effect IMHO is huge and not minor. Might even have limits on S.A.D.!

  16. My doctor noticed a little light rosacia on my cheeks after doing an annual physical on me, and she proceeded to lecture me about sunscreen because I mow the lawn every week. She couldn’t lecture me about vitamin D, because she checked my levels three years ago, found them low, and worked with me to find the adequate supplementation level. She then sent me to a dermatologist for further evaluation.

    Good old Derm Doc took one look at my cheeks, and said “where’s this rosacia? I see pink cheeks, but you’re fair-complected, and it’s 87 degrees outside.” I told him the story of Primary Doc seeing it, and noting concern. I then told Derm Doc about my weekly mowing, and about how I do it between 9-10 a.m., then it’s in the house for me the rest of the day–the humidity around here prevents me from doing anything else outside.

    Derm Doc says if it doesn’t bother me, then I don’t need medication for it–apparently, it’s so light a case, he didn’t bother treating it. He sent me home.

    My secret? I looked up rosacia on the web to see what caused it, and what I could do about it–for me, too many processed meats (bacon, bratwurst) were the problem, and 600 mg. of black currant seed oil (GLA) did the trick in reducing inflammation and redness.

    Thanks to my D-3 supplementation, I no longer burn at the drop of a hat, and no longer need sunscreen. I keep my levels in the 80’s range, and test levels annually (along with a CMP and NMR). I may start smearing a little sunscreen on my cheeks when I go out to mow, but that’s about it.

    Personally, I think hot flashes is what brought the whole rosacia thing on to begin with. Now that those are over, I get to deal with the damage left behind.

    • I had a mild case of rosacea several years ago. It cleared up unexpectedly when I did an herbal liver cleanse.

      • Can you tell me more about the cleanse? What products did you use and the details about frequency, etc. Thanks.

    • I’ve tried borage oil and EPO and haven’t seen a difference. Can you tell me which black current oil that you use. It sounds like just 600 mg per day? Did it help with minimizing the hot flashes too, or just the rosacea. I’m fighting both and they are winning.

  17. I’ve noticed my health and skin are waaaay better in the summer. I live in Iowa; however, and for 4-5 months of the year it’s impossible to get enough sun. Any recommendations for how to compensate for lack of sun in the winter?

    • This was my question. Are tanning beds (once per month or so) an option for people who live in places where its impossible to go outside with exposed skin in the winter?

      • As far as I know, most tanning beds are not regulated not necessarily safe and not advisable.

        • you have been grossly misinformed as a salon owner for 8 years my staff and myself have been trained to assist our customers as to the proper rate of exposure without sunburning.I suggest do some research before you start advising people based on hearsay.

      • Living in the UK, I get as much sun as I can from late April – October, and travel as much as I can in the winter. However in the weeks and months in winter that I am at home, it’s just not possible to get enough sun exposure in the grey, cold winter days. Vitamin D and CLO help, but I also use tanning beds once a week and have only seen my health improve by doing so. Whilst tanning beds aren’t ideal, I do think the scaremongering is of the same nature as the ‘stay out of the sun’ stories.

    • Curious about this too, Heather. I know Dr. Mercola endorsed a line of tanning beds a few years ago (and may do so today…they weren’t cheap when I saw them), but would love to hear if anyone has details on whether certain types of tanning are a safe alternative in climates/seasons lacking sunshine.

      • yes Dr Mercola does endorse a brand of tanning bed and so that’s why I said “most” Maybe his are safe although I know he personally spends half the year in Hawaii (or Florida?)

    • Options for wintertime include, eating foods rich in vitamin D. My preference is sun drying mushrooms during the summer, and eating throughout the winter, as well as buying bulk grass fed butter and freezing it for winter. Using a tanning bed which uses UVB bulbs (a reptile bulb or two will also work.) Worst case, if other options are not available, I will put some vitamin d3 drops on my wrist/arm so my body can absorb through the derma system which is safer. Keep in mind the body needs to have adequate cholesterol, calcium, bile production, etc, to properly produce and hang onto vitamin D.

      • yes yes! Good call: we forget there are food sources of vitamin D like cod liver oil, fish: mackerel, herring, salmon, sardines, tuna; eggs and liver. 🙂

  18. Its not just Northern Australia (which is sparsely populated, so the stats may be misleading) – the Australian continent as a whole leads the world in melanoma rates. I believe the sun safe message here in Australia has got completely out of hand. When I was pregnant, the obstetrician commented I was one of the few expectant mothers she had seen with an adequate level of Vitamin D. I aim for a light to medium tan, and I am careful not to let myself burn.
    I don’t have the link (yep, too lazy to google it), but in the last year or two a group of Aussie researchers put out a study that suggested our very high rates of allergies in children were due to inadequate sun exposure in both the children and their mothers (during pregnancy, obviously). Food for thought….as long as that food is not peanuts, egg or shellfish 😉

    • I totally agree that the sun-safe message is way out of hand in Australia! I am an Aussie living in San Francisco, and while I have skin that does not burn easily, it most certainly does not here in North America.
      I think we should get some exposure to the sun every day possible; we should not use sunscreen, but we should never expose our skin to the point of burning. The redness, pain and inflammation of sun burn is our bodies’ way of saying “get out of the sun” and we should respect that.

      • I am in the sun quite a lot but with very little skin exposed because the winter here is cold just now. ( live on the Darling Downs in Australia which has temperate climate with heavy frosts in winter.) My question is this “Can exposure to sunlight in winter clothing help? “