You see them cycling on the streets of Taipei.
Every inch of their bodies covered, summer and winter, sun or rain. Usually some sort of flap hangs from a wide-brimmed hat to cover their faces and necks, two holes to see through covered by sunglasses. Gloves, shoes and socks complete the picture.
They don’t look human; they look like huge, bulky insects.
These are the people who have bought heart and soul into the evil that is the sun – the sun that is out to destroy them. No use telling these fearful delusionals that the very thing that they fear, is giving them life.
The advertising industry has successfully turned our source of warmth, light and food into our number one enemy. We may enter the evil thing’s presence, but only if we slap toxins on our bodies.
I’m not going to go into the specifics of the toxic chemicals found in sunblock – you can read about the potential hazards of sunscreens here.
Nobody wants to get skin cancer, but we’ve gone from sun worship to sun dread, according to the Harvard Medical School. The relationship between sun exposure and skin cancer risk isn’t straightforward. Genes, skin type, length and timing and dose of exposure all play a role. Several studies have suggested that suddenly getting a lot of sun is more dangerous than steady exposure over time. There’s also evidence that exposure when you’re young — perhaps before your 20th birthday — matters most.
Short UVB wavelengths aren’t all bad.
According to the same Havard post, the DNA-damaging UVB wavelengths that sunscreens are designed to block, also have an essential function: they start off the process that creates vitamin D in the body.
And isn’t it interesting that worldwide many people have dangerously low levels of vitamin D?
What’s been forgotten is that moderate exposure to the sun has many health benefits.
In fact, a growing number of scientists are concerned that efforts to protect the public from excessive UVR exposure may be eclipsing recent research demonstrating the diverse health-promoting benefits of UVR exposure.
Some argue that the health benefits of UVB radiation seem to outweigh the adverse effects, and that the risks can be minimized by avoiding sunburn and by a healthy diet that includes antioxidants and limits dietary fat and calories.
Let’s remind ourselves of the many magic things the sun does for us.
Healthy bones and genes
The best-known benefit of sunlight is its ability to boost the body’s vitamin D supply, crucial for bone health.
But according to the NIH vitamin D3 is also involved in the regulation of at least 1,000 different genes governing virtually every tissue in the body, including several involved in calcium metabolism and neuromuscular and immune system functioning.
A mood booster
After weeks of grey and rainy days, a sunny sky is enough to put a smile on one’s face. One’s mood is instantly lifted. We know that from experience, but science has also proven that exposure to sunlight increases the levels of serotonin in the brain, a hormone associated with lifting our mood.
The higher the contrast between the daytime light and the night-time darkness, the better your circadian rhythm. Getting sun exposure during the makes the body more efficient at recognizing when it’s time to sleep, producing more of the sleep hormone melatonin when it’s dark at night, resulting in better sleep.
Lower blood pressure
Scientists at the University of Edinburgh found that when sunlight touches our skin, a compound called nitric oxide that helps lower blood pressure, is released into our blood vessels. The scientists say that overall, sun exposure could improve health and even prolong life, because the benefits of reducing blood pressure, cutting heart attacks and strokes, far outweigh the risk of getting skin cancer.
Boosting the immune system
Georgetown University Medical Center researchers have found that sunlight, through a mechanism separate from vitamin D production, energizes T cells that play a central role in human immunity. The study found that sunlight activates key infection-fighting immune cells by increasing their movement.
Preventing certain cancers
In a study conducted at the University of California, San Diego, researchers combined data from surveys of satellite measurements of sunlight and cloud during the winter from 15 countries to estimate vitamin D serum levels of people living in 177 countries and the risk of colon and breast cancer. The scientists estimate that 250,000 cases of colorectal cancer and 350,000 cases of breast cancer could be prevented worldwide by increasing intake of vitamin D3, either through diet, supplements or exposure of the skin to sunlight.