7

votes

What is your sun exposure strategy for those dealing with skin cancer issues?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 24, 2011 at 4:41 PM

Summer is coming :) For anyone out there already dealing with skin damage and/or basal cell carcinoma, will you change your sun exposure habits, wear sunscreen or avoid the sun altogether and just supplement D?

At 39 years old, I have already had three BCCs removed from my back along with several other skin issues from sun exposure. I used to have a tanning bed and spent many hours sunbathing outdoors as well. I have had sunburns in my life (Scottish descent, brown hair/eyes, naturally pale with freckles but I do tan well with measured exposure). My dermatologist of course thinks any sun exposure is certain death and wants me to never walk outdoors again in my life without full sleeves/pants/hat and SPF of 1,000,000 slathered all over my body. Okay I am sure you can tell by my attitude that I am really not happy about decreasing my sun exposure.

Being paleo now for a year and supplementing with Vit D all winter (very low fructose and PUFA), I do not burn until I have been exposed outdoors for 45 minutes (used to be about 15 minutes). So I am thinking that nature knows best and that even for sun-damaged people like me it is okay to be in the sun for a little less than the amount of time it takes to turn pink. I'm planning on 1 hour of outdoor sun measured over the course of a week in a bathing suit or shorts, wearing a hat with SPF 30 on my face, neck and chest. No tanning beds. I would like to get more time in the sun than that, but there is such conflicting information out there that I guess I will be a little more cautious than I prefer and re-evaluate next year after examination by the derm.

Acacdd37eaaaa0370465edc3374a38d8

on August 26, 2011
at 05:51 PM

Look for "The Vitamin D Endocrine System Protects against UV-radiation" in: http://ar.iiarjournals.org/content/26/4A/2743.full.pdf

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on March 25, 2011
at 03:57 PM

Sounds sensible to me.

D67e7b481854b02110d5a5b21d6789b1

(4101)

on March 25, 2011
at 03:24 PM

from what i have read on PaNu, I think this is very prudent advice.

D67e7b481854b02110d5a5b21d6789b1

(4101)

on March 25, 2011
at 03:22 PM

Very good points, Matthew. This is why I plan on getting about 15 minutes 4 days a week, or 30 minutes twice a week and then re-assess my situation again with dermatologist. I suspect my overuse of tanning beds in the past probably contributed to the BCC so no more sunburns for me.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on March 25, 2011
at 03:00 PM

I forgot to mention in my answer that there is evidence that dietary saturated fat may help prevent burning. E.g. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1751-1097.1988.tb02882.x/abstract

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on March 25, 2011
at 01:15 PM

Those say vitamin D protects against cancer, not sunburn, unless I've missed something.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on March 25, 2011
at 02:29 AM

http://www.mercola.com/Downloads/bonus/benefits-of-sun-exposure/report.aspx. http://www.medpagetoday.com/HematologyOncology/SkinCancer/7888

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on March 25, 2011
at 01:09 AM

Can you share some references about the vit D connection, Dr. K? I would be grateful.

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on March 24, 2011
at 09:51 PM

I've read a lot of Panu, but some it was skimming. I will check this out, thanks for the link! :)

D67e7b481854b02110d5a5b21d6789b1

(4101)

on March 24, 2011
at 09:04 PM

I am pretty sure you have seen this, but just in case: http://www.paleonu.com/panu-weblog/2009/8/19/how-much-sun.html Also down in the comments are some very interesting comments and other links that might have more information for you.

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on March 24, 2011
at 06:50 PM

To tell the truth, I'm not sure what to believe about it anymore. I guess in view of that moderate unblocked sun exposure might be my safest bet...? Anybody else with ideas/studies to cite?

D67e7b481854b02110d5a5b21d6789b1

(4101)

on March 24, 2011
at 06:39 PM

"The latest on sunscreeens appears the more you use them the more melanoma you can expect"--this is what I have been reading about as well. I need to test my D level and quit flying blind in that area, good to know about the higher level protection. I plan on continuing the sunscreen on face/chest just for vanity :)

D67e7b481854b02110d5a5b21d6789b1

(4101)

on March 24, 2011
at 06:30 PM

20 minutes a day probably depends on where you live and the fairness of your skin, but I think that is a good rule of thumb for me as I live in the south. 20 minutes a day certainly keeps one's mood up as well.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on March 24, 2011
at 06:28 PM

complicated and controversial. I am one of those fair skinned folks. I think the derms will tell you avoid the sun at all possible but based upon science and my reading if your D level is 60-100 your chance of getting skin Ca drops big time and here is the bigger shocker.....the higher your vitamin D level the more resistant you seem to be to burns. My level is currently 94 and I dont burn unless I am out in the sun past 2 hrs with nothing on. The latest on sunscreeens appears the more you use them the more melanoma you can expect. So I no longer use sun screen myself. This is my choice

D67e7b481854b02110d5a5b21d6789b1

(4101)

on March 24, 2011
at 06:28 PM

Have you researched the causes of melanoma and if so what did you find? I am probably way off base, but isn't melanoma more related to genetic luck than sun exposure? Hence the increase in melanoma along with the increased usage of sunscreen? As opposed to BCC, which is related to sunburns and is only disfiguring not deadly. The data is so conflicting it is hard to know what to believe.

D67e7b481854b02110d5a5b21d6789b1

(4101)

on March 24, 2011
at 06:22 PM

oh, and when I press my skin and it stays whitish for a second, that's about the time when I start thinking of getting some shade, even if I don't want to. My inner sun worshipper tells me to stay longer...

D67e7b481854b02110d5a5b21d6789b1

(4101)

on March 24, 2011
at 06:19 PM

Ambimorph, I have not searched for studies on D increasing protection from sunburn as of yet. However I do remember reading somthing to that effect, possibly on PaNu Vitamin D post.

D67e7b481854b02110d5a5b21d6789b1

(4101)

on March 24, 2011
at 06:17 PM

That is very interesting that your D level fell with some outdoor sun exposure. I suspect that I will have to take a minimal dose of D even through the summer month in Texas if I am limiting sun exposure. Thanks for posting the details. What brand of sunscreen do you use?

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on March 24, 2011
at 05:58 PM

I'm interested in your comment about decreased burn rate as I'm same origins and am VLC since 3/1. Hopefully that means less risk of burn for me this summer!

  • D67e7b481854b02110d5a5b21d6789b1

    asked by

    (4101)
  • Views
    2.6K
  • Last Activity
    1284D AGO
Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

6 Answers

3
D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on March 24, 2011
at 05:46 PM

To tell the truth this has been on my mind a LOT lately. At age 19 I was diagnosed with a malignant in situ melanoma. On one hand, in the years since I've been faithfully to see a dermatologist on a 6 month (or even more frequent) schedule to check for moles and abnormalities. I was always lauded enthusiastically - "I see you've done a great job staying out of the sun!" they'd exclaim.

ETA: I'm a northern European mutt, generally Germanic and British Isles origin, exceedingly fair skin, coppery hair, light blue eyes, classic melanoma phenotype profiling. Redheads in my family, and melanoma has shown up in the family tree, so it would seem that it is all but predestined by heredity.

Yet now? I'm slowly coming around to the idea that being a total hermit during the summer until twilight hours may not be the best for me or my family inasmuch as our vitamin D deficiencies may contribute to other health problems long term.

Even in a recent podcast Robb Wolf seemed slightly reticent to tell a melanoma survivor to go whole hog on sun exposure; he generally recommended very moderate exposure, just a bit at a time.

My current take (though it's always changing) is to not worry about 20 minutes here, 30 minutes there of sun, and only do high SPF sunscreen on myself and my girls if we'll be out at least an hour.

I'm just sort of dreading the dermatologist's admonition the next time I head into the office (which will be August or September) - in terms of me looking potentially less than my baseline shade of ghastly.

Any melanoma survivors out there reading this thread? How are you planning to do sun exposure (if any) this summer?

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on March 24, 2011
at 06:50 PM

To tell the truth, I'm not sure what to believe about it anymore. I guess in view of that moderate unblocked sun exposure might be my safest bet...? Anybody else with ideas/studies to cite?

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on March 24, 2011
at 09:51 PM

I've read a lot of Panu, but some it was skimming. I will check this out, thanks for the link! :)

D67e7b481854b02110d5a5b21d6789b1

(4101)

on March 24, 2011
at 09:04 PM

I am pretty sure you have seen this, but just in case: http://www.paleonu.com/panu-weblog/2009/8/19/how-much-sun.html Also down in the comments are some very interesting comments and other links that might have more information for you.

D67e7b481854b02110d5a5b21d6789b1

(4101)

on March 24, 2011
at 06:28 PM

Have you researched the causes of melanoma and if so what did you find? I am probably way off base, but isn't melanoma more related to genetic luck than sun exposure? Hence the increase in melanoma along with the increased usage of sunscreen? As opposed to BCC, which is related to sunburns and is only disfiguring not deadly. The data is so conflicting it is hard to know what to believe.

2
0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on March 25, 2011
at 01:22 PM

I think one important point to remember is that you don't live where your ancestors did. Houston in Texas is on about the same latitude as Cario in Egypt. If your ancestors were Egyption instead of Scottish you would be unlikely to have pale skin and freckles and would be at a lower risk of sun damage. It may not be "natural" for you to be able to spend long periods in the Texan sun without accumulating skin damage whatever your diet. Pale skin is a trake-off between reduced protection and maximising reduced sun exposure.

I live in Scotland and getting enough sun exposure for a sun tan is often not easy and it is rarely warm enough to be outside in a bathing suit :)

If you are fair skinned with freckles the amount of time it takes to produce vitamin D is quite short. 15 minutes may produce as much as you are going to make in a place like Texas. Spending a long time in the sun is unlikely to bring any additional benefits and will only acculate extra damage. Just because you are not burning does not mean damage is not occuring.

If you have already had three basal cell carcinomas it suggests that you are rather vunerable to sun damage. I would be cautious about extended sun exposure beyond what you need to get some vitamin D. You could get your brief sun exposure and then cover up and wear hat etc.

D67e7b481854b02110d5a5b21d6789b1

(4101)

on March 25, 2011
at 03:22 PM

Very good points, Matthew. This is why I plan on getting about 15 minutes 4 days a week, or 30 minutes twice a week and then re-assess my situation again with dermatologist. I suspect my overuse of tanning beds in the past probably contributed to the BCC so no more sunburns for me.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on March 25, 2011
at 03:57 PM

Sounds sensible to me.

2
100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on March 24, 2011
at 05:47 PM

Good for you for standing up to your doctor!

That's very interesting about the vitamin D. Is there any scientific evidence that this helps, or are we still pioneering?

I haven't ever had melanoma, though I figure I am at high risk. I suspect I am genetically unable to tan (Scots/Irish/English mix), but my burn rate also seems to have gone down since I started ZC. I'm still hoping I can tan a bit eventually, just for the protection it provides.

I've started oiling myself with coconut oil, because some places suggest it mitigates burns, although I can find no hard evidence, and also CW says oils actually intensify the sun. I've already been burned mildly so far this Spring, but it's so mild, that it almost doesn't seem to me like a burn -- just pinker skin that stays whitish for a few seconds when pressed, but it doesn't last long or cause discomfort.

I'm also trying to get frequent exposure. I live at high altitude, though, and the sun can be very intense.

I do tend to shield my face, because sun triggers my rosacea. Sometimes I'll even put sunscreen on this area.

D67e7b481854b02110d5a5b21d6789b1

(4101)

on March 24, 2011
at 06:22 PM

oh, and when I press my skin and it stays whitish for a second, that's about the time when I start thinking of getting some shade, even if I don't want to. My inner sun worshipper tells me to stay longer...

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on March 24, 2011
at 05:58 PM

I'm interested in your comment about decreased burn rate as I'm same origins and am VLC since 3/1. Hopefully that means less risk of burn for me this summer!

D67e7b481854b02110d5a5b21d6789b1

(4101)

on March 24, 2011
at 06:19 PM

Ambimorph, I have not searched for studies on D increasing protection from sunburn as of yet. However I do remember reading somthing to that effect, possibly on PaNu Vitamin D post.

1
13c5a9f1678d75b93f269cdcf69f14d5

(2339)

on March 25, 2011
at 01:13 AM

I wonder about the role of omega 3 and 6. If it takes a couple of years to rebalance this in the body, perhaps new paleos should be wary of the sun at first?

D67e7b481854b02110d5a5b21d6789b1

(4101)

on March 25, 2011
at 03:24 PM

from what i have read on PaNu, I think this is very prudent advice.

1
Eecc48184707bc26bce631485b5b7e34

on March 24, 2011
at 05:49 PM

Because I am very vain in regards to my skin, I do protect fairly meticulously with high PPD european sunscreen containing both tinosorbs. Last summer, I made some exceptions to that rule and would, midday, in a bikini, get sun exposure "both sides" to the point just before a burn would occur. At first this was about 25 minutes each side (in atlanta) but as the summer wore on it could be as much as 1h45m each side (in michigan at the beach). On days I didn't get midday exposure as described above, I would take my normal 6,000 IU per day which is an amount that for me, with daily intake, results in levels of 65 ng/mL. And I've tested many many times over the last 7 years.

Oddly enough, even with probably 4-5 days exposure plus supplementation as outline above, my D level FELL 18 points over the course of 3 months.

Just always test, test and retest.

With a very low PUFA/fructose diet that is rich in zinc, plants and with optimal serum levels of vitamin D, personal, my concern regarding skin cell abnormalities (and cancer) would be very low.

Katherine

D67e7b481854b02110d5a5b21d6789b1

(4101)

on March 24, 2011
at 06:17 PM

That is very interesting that your D level fell with some outdoor sun exposure. I suspect that I will have to take a minimal dose of D even through the summer month in Texas if I am limiting sun exposure. Thanks for posting the details. What brand of sunscreen do you use?

1
06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on March 24, 2011
at 05:01 PM

20 min a day half naked--10 min a side--makes enough Vit D naturally. I know one person who has been doing this for a year...who used to have to visit the dermatologist every 3 months to have lots of the BCCs frozen off. Now he has a nice tan and no BCC. It seems either supplementation or 20 min a day eliminates the BCCs.

D67e7b481854b02110d5a5b21d6789b1

(4101)

on March 24, 2011
at 06:30 PM

20 minutes a day probably depends on where you live and the fairness of your skin, but I think that is a good rule of thumb for me as I live in the south. 20 minutes a day certainly keeps one's mood up as well.

Answer Question


Get FREE instant access to our
Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!