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“Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth”
― Albert Einstein
“Tanning is skin cells in trauma” booms the stern male voice in the television ad about melanoma. Hang on a minute, I`m confused. If the skin is performing an action that it is programmed to do naturally ie producing melanin in response to a specific exposure in order to adapt and protect itself then how can that be traumatic? I can understand how sunburn is harmful but slow, sensible tanning? Full marks to the Cancer Institute for scaring the life out of people.
I celebrate the devoted sun-worshippers gracing the golden sands of Sydney`s beaches and embellishing her parks, the dedicated sunbathers supine in their pleasure as they bask in the life-affirming rays. I delight in seeing the bronzed gods and goddesses spreadeagled and lolling in carefree repose in the sun`s sustaining warmth. I love them for their defiance, collectively flipping the bird at the medical establishment and unheeding its dire warnings about sun exposure. I admire the sun-lovers for their independent minds as they apparently thumb their nose at the institution with its scare campaign. Far from recoiling from the sun in fear these freethinking, sovereign Souls instinctively know it is good for them.
Flouting the cautionary advice of the medical community, the sun-worshippers seem not to be influenced by the group thoughtform that persistently warns “this is what will happen to you if you do this. This is how your health will suffer if you make this choice”. The sun-lovers are clearly taking control of their own story and I love them for it! Noiselessly they rebel against indoctrination by the system which has been so emphatic and thorough in scaring the population off sun exposure that anyone who still chooses to bathe in its rays is considered a foolish outlier. It just feels to me that the pendulum has swung too far against sun exposure and that eventually this will be known and acknowledged by the powers that be.
I quietly cheer the tanned-up sun-lovers because they are my tribe. I am one of them. Call me a crank but I love being out in the sun over the long Sydney summers. I love the drowsy, unhurried feel of the summer holidays, the sense of ease in the carefree, languid days that have a kind of expansive, roomy feel, as though so much more is possible. I love the reassuring masculine solar presence radiating his revitalizing warmth and brightness because it just seems to make every simple little thing that much better.
I always had a bit of trouble buying into the peddled line that the sun was causing cancer, a message that has been drummed into us ad nauseam over the past 30 or more years. Being a child of the 60s I grew up with the belief that sunshine was health-giving and uplifting and I don`t remember ever swaying from that view. I wasn`t convinced that solar ultraviolet radiation was solely to blame for causing malignant melanoma and basal cell carcinoma, instead I wondered if other factors played a role in damaging DNA. It just seemed way too easy and expedient to scapegoat the sun lest we take personal responsibility for suboptimal lifestyle choices ; lest we get real about our constant exposure to potential carcinogens in this thoroughly modern life.
Around 25 years ago I saw a skin cancer doctor about a couple of funny white growths on my chest which he promptly diagnosed as basal cell carcinoma. Oh so smugly and with the kind of fixed smirk you see on those ventriloquist dolls he presumed to critique my life-choices while reassuring me that the BCCs could easily be removed. I got home and decided I `d have a go at getting rid of them myself, but from the inside rather than his external solution. I simply ramped-up my fresh fruit and vegetable intake and I ate lots of raw english spinach and carrots – not solely, just an increase on my normal servings – and sure enough, over the next month or so, those unsightly BCCs dried up and disappeared. I made no other changes – still drank coffee, still had the occasional ciggie (which I was partial to back then).
The body has a natural tendency towards wellness and if we can maintain the ideal blood pH of 7.35 to 7.45 then cancer is unable to grow in an alkaline environment, but alas, I have heard it said that the vast majority of people are walking around in a state of perpetual dehydration and chronic inflammation. Genetically modified foods reportedly cause inflammation because they are unrecognizable to the body as nourishment. Alcohol is an irritant to the human system, and cocaine and MDMA acidify the blood as do sedatives and other medications. It really is a darn inconvenience that all the fun stuff and the pharmaceutical fixes just might be pounding our DNA with continuous hits that trigger those cell mutations. I guess it`s much easier to accept a diagnosis if we can just pin it all on the sun.
I remember when colour televison sets were the new thing in the mid 70s and there were warnings then about the emission of X-Ray radiation from those older style sets, with viewers advised not to sit too close. Similarly with microwave ovens at the time, with health concerns about leaking microwave radiation. Then there were reports in the early 2000s saying that sunscreen was potentially carcinogenic due to the nano-technology of the active substances damaging the DNA in skin cells. Since the early `90s we have seen the huge upsurge in the number of people suffering food allergies and intolerances and it has been theorised that this is due to widespread Vitamin D deficiency. Could it be that warning people off the sun has actually weakened us? That it has increased our susceptibility?
What about our continuous exposure to radio frequency radiation and to Wi-Fi which supposedly disrupts and scrambles the human energy field? Is it harming our DNA? The fact that Telstra regularly sends out text messages directing me to a link which provides “tips for reducing exposure to RF radiation” indicates that the telcos well suspect there are risks to human health. According to the American Cancer Society : “A number of studies have looked at the possible link between cell phones and cancer. Although some studies have shown a possible link, many others have not. The possible link between cell phones and cancer is hard to study for many reasons, including the relatively short time that cell phones have been in widespread use, changes in the technology over time, and difficulty in estimating each person’s exposure”. (website updated Nov 2018).
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is part of the World Health Organization and part of its remit is to identify causes of cancer. IARC has stated that there is limited evidence that RF radiation causes cancer in animals and humans, and classifies RF radiation as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”. IARC considers the evidence overall to be “limited” because of the conflicting findings and methodologic limitations in some of the studies. In 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that cellphones are a “Class 2B carcinogen.
Hmmm….it all gives pause for thought.
Get the right amount of sunshine for your skin type
An adequate level of Vitamin D is essential for overall wellness and for healing to occur within the body. Vitamin D underpins the sturdiness of our physical system and the resilience of our mental health, and its deficiency has a significant negative effect on our quality of life. Vitamin D apparently functions like a hormone and each bodily cell has a receptor for it. It is necessary for healthy cell growth, maintaining a healthy immune system, regulating the nervous system and controlling inflammation. Adequate Vitamin D helps wounds to heal more quickly and supports recovery post-surgery. Unsurprisingly, Vitamin D deficiency makes us more susceptible to increased risk of illness and infections, and fatigue and tiredness can be a symptom Vitamin D deficiency. Depression and low mood is associated with insufficient Vitamin D and some studies have found that supplementing improves mood. Vitamin D protects against cancer by aggressively attacking tumours. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in calcium absorption and getting enough of it is important for preserving bone mass as you get older. D deficiency can lead to Rickets (soft bones) in children. There is a link between chronic pain and low blood levels of vitamin D, which may be due to the interaction between the vitamin and pain-sensing nerve cells called nociceptors. Studies have linked insufficient Vitamin D to influenza and schizophrenia.
Ninety per cent of vitamin D is made from sunlight exposure directly on to the skin (not through glass). Only about 10 per cent of vitamin D comes from food sources such as oily fish, fortified milk and egg yolks. Vitamin D deficiency is reportedly common but is easy to remedy.
It could be strongly argued that warning people to stay out of the sun is in fact keeping them sicker. A study done by an Australian University in the early 2000s on melanoma-sufferers showed that moderate sun exposure actually slowed the growth of the melanoma compared to the control group that avoided the sun altogether.
According to the Australian government Department of Health website healthdirect “A number of diseases have been linked to low vitamin D levels such as increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment in older adults, severe asthma in children and cancer. Research suggests that vitamin D could play a role in the prevention and treatment of a number of different conditions, including Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance and multiple sclerosis. Low vitamin D levels can lead to osteoporosis and increase your risk of falls and fractures (broken bones) if you are over 50”.
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