Spring is almost here. I’ve already spotted purple crocuses popping up in my yard. And the coming season change means three things: Longer days… warmer weather… and endless lectures about sunscreen.
But, as you’ll see in a moment, sunscreen can be way overrated.
I’ll share my common-sense tips for sun protection in just a moment. But first, new research reveals why going overboard and hiding from the sun like a vampire can backfire on you.
In fact, you should plan on spending some daily sunscreen-free time outside all spring and summer long. Because that’s when the magic happens. It’s when your body produces essential vitamin D.
You already know how vital D is for overall good health. But the new study confirms a crucial benefit of the sunshine vitamin that gets almost no attention at all.
It turns out vitamin D can be a powerful weapon against one of today’s deadliest diseases, colon cancer.
Slash colon cancer risk in half
Overall, cancer deaths have been declining for the last few decades. And the rates of many forms of cancer have been steadily dropping too. But colon cancer diagnoses remain stubbornly high.
Younger people, in particular, are especially prone to colon cancer lately. There’s been a two percent jump in cases in folks under 50 every year for much of the past decade.
But colon cancer is slowly and steadily on the rise in seniors, too. Diagnosis rates have been increasing by one percent a year past the age of 60 over that same time.
In fact, about one in 23 Americans will develop colon cancer. And the disease strikes men and women in almost equal numbers.
But researchers say vitamin D could help push all of those odds back in your favor. The new study of 95,000 women finds the more D you get, the lower your risk for the disease appears to be.
Overall, high vitamin D… especially from dairy, the best source outside of sunlight and supplements… was linked to a 50 percent drop in the risk for colon cancer.
In real-world numbers, this means those one in 23 odds become one in 46.
This study focused more on the younger folks who are especially susceptible to this form of cancer. But we know from previous research that vitamin D is critical across all age groups.
For example, a 2018 study found that simply going above the minimum recommended levels of 600 IU per day could cut your colon cancer risk by nearly a quarter.
Fight back with the sunshine vitamin
The best way to get D is to spend some time each day out under the sun, of course.
Just skip slathering yourself in sunscreen before stepping a foot out the door. Sunscreen will block the reaction on your skin that leads to the production of colon-cancer-fighting vitamin D.
Of course, you don’t want to get burned, either. So, here’s what I suggest: Get 10-20 minutes of direct sunscreen-free exposure daily (you know your skin best – the idea is to get just enough sun to not get burned).
If you’re going to be outside any longer than that, seek out some shade or cover up with long sleeves. And if you can’t avoid extended sun exposure, you can use a safer mineral-based sunscreen.
Many common commercial sunscreens contain chemicals that can RAISE your cancer risk instead of helping you avoid it. For more details on this frightening link, see my earlier report here.
Plus, since most of us fail to squeeze in enough outside time, you might also want to consider taking a vitamin D3 supplement. This will ensure you get enough of this vital vitamin to reap its many health benefits, including reducing your colon cancer risk.
Your own doctor can help you decide how much you should take for your own personal situation. But most older Americans need at least 2,000 IU per day, and many could use more.
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