A warm sunny day … what could feel better? Yet the warm sun on our skin that we all crave gets a lot of bad press from the medical establishment.
Far from being a source of illness that will kill you before your time, the sun is your best hope to live longer and prevent illness.
Did you know, for example, that people living in places that get more of the sun’s UV radiation have the lowest incidence of cancer?1
That doesn’t mean sunlight lowers the “risk” of getting cancer. Getting more sunlight keeps people from actually getting cancer.
Studies show sunlight prevents skin cancer, prostate2 cancer, lung3 cancer, colorectal4 cancer… and it lowers rates of leukemia, breast cancer, bladder cancer and lymphoma. I could list many more.
Part of the sun’s protective power is that its UV rays “turn on” several processes in the body that lengthen telomeres.
Most doctors don’t know this because they’ve been misled into believing that sunlight is generally harmful and can even kill you. But they’re years behind the research.
Here are just a few of the amazing ways sunlight helps your body grow younger:
1. In one study, researchers found that the sun’s ultraviolet rays lowered blood pressure. In another study, scientists discovered that ultraviolet rays promoted fat loss.
Now here’s an interesting thing that was not mentioned in the summaries of these studies, but is something you should know.
Both studies found that sunlight causes the body to release nitric oxide.5 What neither study noted is that nitric oxide activates telomerase, the enzyme that rebuilds telomeres, those tiny tips on your DNA that regulate how young and healthy your body acts.
At my wellness center, I’ve been studying the anti-aging powers of nitric oxide for years. (Remember, this is nitric oxide (NO), not your dentist’s laughing gas. That’s nitrous oxide.)
NO is a compound produced naturally by cells in the walls of your blood vessels. It allows them to “breathe easy” and let your blood flow freely.
I happen to know from my research into telomeres that NO increases the activity of telomerase. It extends the life of blood cells.6 The same is true in the other direction. Block NO production and telomeres get shorter.7
2. You might already know that sunlight gets turned into Vitamin D in your body. But did you know that vitamin D also increases telomerase?
One study looked into the health records of more than 2,000 women, and found that women with the most vitamin D had the longest telomeres. And the women who took vitamin D supplements had longer telomeres that the women who didn’t.8
3. Sunlight also encourages your skin to make melanin, a natural sunscreen which gives your complexion its color. And there’s a relationship between how much melanin you have in your skin and the length of your telomeres.
When melanin becomes concentrated in a small area, it darkens the skin. This process keeps skin cells younger.
Cancer experts studied 1,800 women ages 18 to 79. The researchers compared the telomere length of the white blood cells of these women with more melanin-rich areas to the white blood cells of women without them.
There are two reasons they looked at white blood cells. The first is they are your body’s “guardians” against biological enemies. They fight off diseases and infections that can age you. The second is that telomere length of white blood cells is also often used to extrapolate general telomere length and health.
Women who had more areas of melanin-rich skin had the longest telomeres. These women’s white blood cells ranged from six to seven years younger than the women who had a less melanin.9,10
4. Another way sunlight protects and lengthens telomere is through melatonin. I’ve discovered that for anti-aging, it’s the expression of telomerase that truly makes melatonin so potent.
I revealed this to subscribers in the March issue of my Confidential Cures newsletter. I discovered the connection while doing research for my new book on telomere biology.
The sun’s rays tell the brain’s pineal gland when to produce melatonin and how much of it to make. Turns out telomeres have receptors that “listen to” and “talk to” the hormones in your body, including melatonin.
In just one example, researchers gave melatonin to both young and old rats. They all had significant increases in telomerase and significant decreases in oxidative stress. This suggests that melatonin is not only a powerful antioxidant but also boosts telomerase expression.11
It’s very simple: increasing melatonin levels helps cells get younger.
5. Melatonin also helps regulate production of another vital hormone called HGH, or human growth hormone. HGH helps stimulate telomerase to rebuild telomeres.
So you can see why it’s so important to get healthy doses of sunlight.
In my practice, Here are the steps I give to my patients who have been “in the dark” to help them go out and get healthy sunlight:
1. If you haven’t spent a lot of time in the Sun, start out gradually. If you’re fair-skinned, go outside for about 20 minutes a day. If you have a darker complexion, then you can push it to about an hour.
2. As your skin begins to tan, you can spend more and more time in the sun. That’s because your skin has begun producing melanin. This hormone acts like a natural sunscreen to protect you from burning.
3. I’m not a fan of slathering on sunscreen. Many of them contain toxic or cancer-causing chemicals. Chemicals that have been banned in other countries. Sunscreens also block the sunlight so it can’t stimulate nitric oxide and vitamin D, blocking the telomere benefits of the sun. If you’re worried about being in the sunlight for a long time, then use a natural sunblock like zinc oxide cream.
4. Many drugs can make your skin extra sensitive to ultraviolet light. Like antibiotics, antihistamines, chemotherapy treatments, and common painkillers. So ask your doctor or pharmacist if your drugs are sun-friendly or not.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD
1.Grant W. “Solar ultraviolet irradiance and cancer incidence and mortality.” Adv Exp Med Biol. 2014;810:52-68.
2.Taksler G, Cutler D, Giovannucci E, Smith M, Keating N. “Ultraviolet index and racial differences in prostate cancer incidence and mortality.” Cancer. 2013 Sep 1;119(17):3195-203.
3.Zhao T, Jia H, Li L, Zhang G, Zhao M, Cheng Q, Zheng J, Li D. “Inhibition of CK2 enhances UV-triggered apoptotic cell death in lung cancer cell lines.” Oncol Rep. 2013 Jul;30(1):377-84.
4.Cuomo R, Mohr S, Gorham E, Garland 2. “What is the relationship between ultraviolet B and global incidence rates of colorectal cancer?” Dermatoendocrinol. 2013 Jan 1;5(1):181-5.
5.Liu D, Fernandez B, Hamilton A, Lang N, Gallagher J, Newby D, Feelisch M, Weller R. “UVA irradiation of human skin vasodilates arterial vasculature and lowers blood pressure independently of nitric oxide synthase.” J Invest Dermatol. 2014 Jul;134(7):1839-46.
6.Vasa M, et. al. “Nitric Oxide Activates Telomerase and Delays Endothelial Cell Senescense.” Circulation Research. 2000; 540-542.
7.Scalera F, et. al. “Endogenous Nitric Oxide Synthesis Inhibitor Asymmertic Dimethyle L-Arginine Accelerates Endothelial Cell Senescence.” Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. 2004; 1816-1822.
8.Richards, J Brent, et al, “Higher serum vitamin D concentrations are associated with longer leukocyte telomere length in women,” J Clin Nutr 2007; Vol. 86, No. 5, 1420-1425.
9.Bakalar N. “Title” The New York Times. www.nytimes.com. July 24, 2007. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
10.Bataille V, et. al. “Nevus size and number are associated with telomere length and represent potential markers of a decreased senescence in vivo.” Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2007;16(7):1499-502.
11. Akbulut K, et. al. “The role of melatonin on gastric mucosal cell proliferation and telomerase activity in ageing.” J Pineal Res. 2009; 308-12.
Al Sears, M.D., is a practicing physician with extensive experience in the fields of complementary and natural healthcare. The recommendation and materials on this site represent his opinion based on his years of practicing medicine. The information and material provided on this site are for educational purposes only and any recommendations are not intended to replace the advice of your physician. You are encouraged to seek advice from a competent medical professional regarding the applicability of any recommendations with regard to your symptoms or condition. It is important that you do not reduce, change or discontinue any medication or treatment without consulting your physician first. The personal stories shared on this website are personal to the users and will not be typical of the results you will have if you follow the advice provided on this website.
The information and recommendations provided on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are provided for educational purposes only.
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