Some sunny news on skin cancer
“Let me first say that I really trust you and believe what you say, especially since you admit that you are not always right, or you say: ‘I don’t know but I will try to find the answer.’ Having said that, it is really difficult to accept your position on sun and cancer. Even Science magazine says that increase in skin cancer is due to ‘over exposure to the sun as a child.’ But again, back to your side, apparently none of the experts has challenged you or you would have written it up in the news-letter. This is an important issue and I think that your new subscribers, as well the old ones, would like to read your latest thoughts on this.”
-W.M.W., Washington, DC
Thank you for your kind remarks. I will do my best to hold your trust.
First, let’s dispose of the theory that overexposure to sunlight as a child leads to skin cancer. That is simply implausible. Children have always spent as much of their time as possible outside in the sun. It’s called “playing,” as in baseball, football, fishing, swimming, etc. Serious skin cancer, such as melanoma, was rare before World War II. In recent years, however, kids began spending their recreation time sitting in front of a computer or television. Many of these “vidiots” are now approaching middle age and melanoma cancer is increasing. If they are staying out of the sun, wearing “protective” sunglasses, and using sunscreen on their skin as recommended by their dermatologists, their druggists, and the commercials, why is melanoma increasing rather than decreasing?
The most likely cause is the opposite of what you have been told. Ultraviolet deficiency, not UV excess, is responsible, not only for instances of melanoma skin cancer but also for increased rates of breast cancer. Another contributing factor is the excess exposure we get from incandescent light bulbs, which are heavy in infrared light. This exposure weakens the immune system and can cause cataracts.
When you read propaganda from the sunscreen manufacturers and the dermatologists, keep in mind that they have a personal stake in the sun/cancer paradigm. A lot of sunglasses and sunscreen are sold by scare propaganda.
Also, keep in mind that talking about “skin cancer” as one entity makes as much sense as talking about “fat” as if all fats were the same. When the statement is made that “skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States,” what does it mean? It means little, as most of the cancer being referred to is basal-cell cancer-which is benign if treated when the area is small, say the size of a pea. Even if it is larger, say the size of your thumbnail, it is still curable, but you will have a larger scar.
The other form of skin cancer is called squamous-cell carcinoma. It is serious, because it does metastasize, like malignant melanoma, but it is rare and not proved to be caused by the sun.
Remember that commercial interests, political interests, scientific bias, and prejudice control what the American people think. Every television set should have on the screen a warning label with the following message: “This instrument has been proved to cause addiction and cancer of the intellect.”