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Dark Deception debunks the widespread myth that sunlight is harmful to your health and demonstrates how sunlight exposure can improve your quality of life.
For decades sunbathing has been considered evidence of poor health judgment, an activity comparable to smoking cigarettes. This depiction is a gross distortion of the truth. Dark Deception reveals that there is no proof that moderate sunlight exposure is harmful to your health. Sunlight exposure, which produces vitamin D, a ...
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Dark Deception debunks the widespread myth that sunlight is harmful to your health and demonstrates how sunlight exposure can improve your quality of life.
For decades sunbathing has been considered evidence of poor health judgment, an activity comparable to smoking cigarettes. This depiction is a gross distortion of the truth. Dark Deception reveals that there is no proof that moderate sunlight exposure is harmful to your health. Sunlight exposure, which produces vitamin D, a crucial hormone for the functioning of organs, provides many therapeutic benefits, including reducing chronic degenerative diseases.
Dark Deception elucidates the health benefits of sunlight exposure and the dangers of avoiding it. It offers tips for safe sunbathing. It demonstrates that oral vitamin D supplements can be toxic replacements for the natural vitamin D your body produces when exposed to sunlight. Dark Deception will change how you understand the sun and your health.
How and Why You Have Been Deceived
For decades now, you have all been warned that the sun is dangerous. At best, you have been told that it will wrinkle your skin and age you prematurely. At worst-and it is a very grim worst case scenario indeed-you have been told that it will greatly accelerate your risk of cancer. Many of you probably remember dire warnings that the hole in the ozone layer would eventually make going outside nearly impossible. Even now, you have been told that on a sunny day, you need to slather yourself with sunblock, or a grim fate awaits you.
Sunbathing is now portrayed as a social evil. It is considered evidence of poor health judgment, an activity that is comparable, in many circles, to smoking cigarettes or drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. A "healthy tan" is considered an oxymoron. In fact, one ad for sunscreen showed ten onlookers gazing into a casket, with the headline "Here's how you can look with a healthy tan."
The media is filled with such warnings, and so-called "public service announcements" on the issue show no more restraint than the sunscreen commercials. A typical anti-sun ad spot ominously alleged that "exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays accounts for more than half of all cancers in America ... cover up and use sunscreen on yourself and your kids every day." Another somewhat bizarre ad in the same series went so far as to compare the sun to "a clown, smiling with jagged teeth and ill intent at your wee ones, flamethrower in hand ... every day, this unseen killer punches through the earth's atmosphere, through the clouds, and into your child's flesh." And anti-sun ads are far-reaching; a rather self-congratulatory survey conducted after these spots aired revealed that, after only one month, 76 percent of those in the media market where they were being broadcast had seen them.
And that number applied to only one set of ads among many; the message has reached far more than 76 percent of the population. In addition to the ads, news headlines blare "Discoveries on the Making of a Suntan Reveal How Cancer Lurks in the Wings," "Sun is Linked to Mutations in Skin," or "Scientists Struggle to Undo Tanning's Deadly Damage." These articles were published in the New York Times.
The U.S. government is in agreement with these disturbing headlines; many who sound the alarm regarding the dangers of sun exposure point to the fact that the National Toxicology Program of the Health and Human Services Department has labeled sunlight a "known carcinogen." Of course, that list also includes nickel coins, wood dust, and wine as "known carcinogens" (and also featured on the list, ironically enough, is methyleugenol, a substance used in sunscreens).
You have been told by doctors, by health officials, by advertisements and commercials, by beauty experts, by corporations, and by well-meaning friends: The sun is your enemy. The sun will kill you. You need to stay out of the sun.
The only problem is that it's all been a distortion of the truth.
That's not to say that sunlight can't be harmful. Of course it can be, as the sun is a powerful source of energy, and needs to be respected. Anyone who has ever gotten a sunburn knows that sunlight, at a high intensity over a long enough period, most certainly can damage your skin. As you will read later in the book, sunburns are only a trigger for skin cancer and not the cause, but imprudent sun exposure is certainly something to be avoided. Precise recommendations for optimal sun exposure will be reviewed later in the book.
It is important to appreciate that anything, no matter how healthy, can be harmful to you if you receive or consume excessive amounts, and sunlight is no exception. There is, however, little scientific evidence to justify the massive public health campaigns that recommend complete avoidance of the sun. While sunburns do contribute to skin cancer risks, there is no proof that exposure to the sun that does not result in a sunburn will cause melanoma. What's more, there is no proof that sunscreens prevent melanoma. In fact, studies have shown that melanoma is more common at higher latitudes where there is less sunlight. Other studies have demonstrated that people who spend more time outdoors actually decrease their risk of developing deadly melanoma.
Sunlight, the Healer
Sunlight's potential to harm you has been blown out of proportion. And what's worse, the paranoia about sun exposure has also overwhelmed and buried the wealth of historical and medical evidence supporting the enormous therapeutic benefits that regular sun exposure can provide. In fact, as you will find out in the next few chapters, careful sunbathing has the potential to radically reduce many of the chronic degenerative diseases that rank among the greatest health problems faced by modern man.
Not all of the precise mechanisms that produce the benefits of sun exposure are known, but a mountain of recent scientific research points to vitamin D as having one of the most profound roles in providing these beneficial effects. Vitamin D is produced naturally by your body when sunlight strikes your skin. It is essential for your health and for the proper functioning of your organs and cells. A deficiency in vitamin D renders your body vulnerable to a host of chronic disease conditions.
Unfortunately, the fear and paranoia regarding sun exposure, combined with the fact that so many people now work indoors, has contributed to a silent epidemic of vitamin D deficiency. This epidemic is a major factor in the precipitous rise of the many chronic illnesses which are currently plaguing our modern industrial society. And, as you will read later on, simply swallowing a vitamin D capsule is not at all equivalent to obtaining vitamin D the way your body was designed to produce it, by having sunlight shine on your uncovered skin.
Recent evidence strongly suggests that if everyone in the U.S. received enough sunshine, the number of cancers diagnosed each year would drop by 200,000, and the annual number of cancer deaths would drop by as much as 63,000. And a vast new study that spanned the globe revealed even more astonishing results. Researchers looked at data from 177 countries, examining blood serum levels of vitamin D3, satellite measurements of sunshine and cloud cover, and breast and colon cancer rates. They found that, worldwide, adequate sun exposure could prevent as many as 250,000 cases of colorectal cancer and 350,000 cases of breast cancer annually. Think about that for a moment-600,000 fewer people would develop those potentially deadly diseases each year. And that number refers to only two types of cancer; if all varieties of cancer were taken into account, the number would be far higher.
Still in the Dark Ages
It wasn't always like this. For most of human history, the sun was respected for its curative powers, rather than being regarded as a cause of disease. In fact, from the beginning of recorded time, humans have worshipped the sun for its therapeutic properties. Many ancient cultures have clear records of this.
Health practitioners reported the benefits of sun exposure on heart health six thousand years ago, in the time of ancient Egyptian pharaohs Ramses and Akhenaton. The Greek physician Antyllus wrote that sun therapy "prevents increase of body weight, strengthens muscles, makes fat disappear and reduces hydropic swellings." Heliotherapy (helio meaning "sun") was also praised by Hippocrates, the creator of the Hippocratic Oath, as well as the doctors of Rome and Arabia. The Roman scholar Pliny the Elder called sunbathing "the best of all self-administered medicine," and sunning was prescribed in Rome for epilepsy, paralysis, asthma, jaundice, bladder and colon diseases, and obesity. The great Arabic physician Avicenna recommended sun baths for asthma, sciatica, and other ailments.
Our ancestors often had a complex relationship with the sun, however, and attitudes towards it sometimes changed quite radically over the course of human history. Sun therapy fell out of common practice in the West between the fall of pagan Rome and the beginning of the eighteenth century. The reasons were primarily religious; early Christians were afraid of the association between heliotherapy and sun worship, so they avoided attributing healing powers to sunlight. In both Rome and Greece, heliotherapy was linked with the powers of sun gods, and the Christians of Europe, after fighting a long and bitter campaign to eliminate persistent solar cults, were relentless in their goal of destroying every trace of them.
The Middle Ages were a dark period for medical practice in general. Many medical principles considered basic common sense today, such as good hygiene practices, were unknown. At the same time traditional remedies were often rejected because of their association with witchcraft or pagan religions. The scientific method had not yet been introduced, and doctors never tested their theories to see whether or not they actually worked; a patient lived, or died, and medical practice remained the same either way. This was the era of the Black Death, of rampant plagues, and of epidemics of cholera and tuberculosis. Millions perished needlessly because basic medical concepts were unknown or misunderstood.
The modern era could learn a powerful lesson from this period of history. While there has been clear and obvious improvement, traditional remedies such as sun therapy are still being rejected because physicians are afraid of their association with primitive superstition. It's true that the scientific method has allowed us to conquer or reduce the spread of many infectious diseases, but at the same time mountains of evidence, pointing squarely at many of the actual causes of chronic illnesses, have far too frequently been dismissed out of hand.
All too many modern physicians, like their counterparts in the Dark Ages, make recommendations about factors such as diet and sun exposure based on conventional wisdom, rather than a scientific examination of real effects on human health. Study after study cited in this book will demonstrate that the currently accepted conventional wisdom is simply inaccurate, and based on misinformation.
In many ways conventional medical science is still in the Dark Ages.
During the eighteenth century there came an era known as the Enlightenment. It is called this because, at that time, modern scientific principles were first developed and applied to physics, chemistry, and medicine. Along with the Enlightenment there came-for a while-a return to the earlier regard for the sun as a healing power. As scientists examined the effects of sunlight on disease, they became more aware of the fact that it was potentially a powerful force for human health.
Waldvogel of Bohemia began to recommend sunbathing for health in 1755, although he had few, if any, followers so early on. In 1776 Le Peyre and Le Comte used sunlight to help treat wounds and tumors, and reported excellent results. In 1779, Bertrano published a series of essays entitled, "Concerning the Influence of Light on Living Organisms," and a scientific basis began to form for a study of the beneficial effects of sunlight. In 1796 the University of Gottingen in Germany offered a prize to whoever wrote the best essay on the effect of light on the human body. The prize was won by one Dr. Ebermaien, who came very close to describing the manner in which sunlight could be used to cure rickets.
The nineteenth century saw a small explosion of research into sunlight. The scientists Cauvin, Dobereiner, Gerard, Hauterive, and Bonnet all carried out numerous experiments in the 1800s in an attempt to determine the effects of sun exposure. Their results were so positive that these men attempted to build a new system of therapeutics based on the use of the sunbath. In 1820 a French doctor named Lachaise observed that sunlight "gives marked relief in scurvy and rickets," and later in that same decade the Polish doctor Jedrzej Sniadecki successfully treated rickets in city children by taking them to the countryside so that they could get some sun.
In the 1830s, Dr. George Bodington defied the received medical wisdom of his time by using an "open air" treatment for tuberculosis patients, rather than enclosing them inside. He was successful in treating the disease, and even brought about some cures. The year 1849 saw H. Lebert winning the prize of the French Academy of Medicine for a treatise on the treatment of scrofula and tuberculosis that included sun therapy. In 1852, Drs. Ollier and Poncet began experimenting with heliotherapy to treat patients with surgical tuberculosis (tuberculosis of the joints, bones, intestines, or skin, rather than the more common tuberculosis of the lungs, also called pulmonary tuberculosis).
The father of modern sunbathing therapy is thought by many to be Arnold Rikli, who in 1855 opened a famous sanatorium in Weldes Krai, Austria, that provided a "Cure Atmospherique." The institution attracted patients from all over the world, and the experience Rikli gained in his fifty-two years of practice enabled him to write seven books on all aspects of heliotherapy. Although he is remembered by few today, his work influenced several generations of scientists.
In 1877, two British scientists, Dr. Arthur Downes and Thomas Blunt, accidentally discovered that light could kill bacteria when they left tubes of sugar water on a window sill. Tubes in a shaded area became cloudy, indicating bacterial growth, but tubes exposed to light remained clear. Realizing the potential implications they decided to thoroughly and scientifically test the effects of sunlight on the development of bacteria. They discovered that sunlight was in fact a powerful bactericide.
Their research, at last proving the beneficial effects of sunlight, set off a cascading series of experiments and treatments demonstrating the necessity of sunlight to health. By the end of the nineteenth century, sunlight had been demonstrated to be effective against such illnesses as anthrax, cholera, and dysentery, among many others. Scientists soon determined that the violet end of the spectrum produced the most intense antibacterial action.
Into the Twentieth Century-Nobel Prizes For Sunlight Researchers
At the start of the twentieth century, research had advanced to the point that two Nobel Prizes were given to sunlight therapists: Neils Finsen in 1903 and Robert Koch in 1905. Both used ultraviolet light to successfully treat tuberculosis, decades before the advent of antibiotics. Florence Nightingale knew of the importance of sunlight, and redesigned many of the hospitals of the early twentieth century to let in more sun.
One very notable figure from this era is Dr. Auguste Rollier, a surgeon who had become disenchanted with the largely ineffective surgical techniques that were being used at the time to treat tuberculosis. Dr. Rollier had good reason to despise these methods-his best friend committed suicide after a colleague of Rollier's removed his shoulder joint, knee joint, hip joint, finger, and foot in an attempt to stop his tuberculosis from spreading.
When Rollier's fiancée also came down with the then-common illness, he started searching for another way to treat the disease. He eventually found it when his Swiss patients shared with him the folk remedy of sunbathing. He enjoined his fiancée to spend as much time as she could in the bright Alpine sunshine, and she was soon fully recovered. From the day of her recovery, Rollier was a devoted disciple of heliotherapy.
Rollier began using sunlight therapy in Switzerland in 1903, with such success that, over the course of the next forty years, his methods were adopted by hospitals worldwide, including in the United States. Of the 2,167 patients who were under his care for tuberculosis following World War II, 1,746 completely recovered their health, an astonishing number for the time, with the only failures those who were already in the most advanced stage of the disease. Rollier's technique became a template for all who came after him. Because his work was so important, excerpts from his remarkably advanced book on the subject are included in appendix B.
Excerpted from DARK DECEPTION by Joseph Mercola Jeffry Herman Copyright © 2008 by Joseph Mercola and Jeffry Herman. Excerpted by permission.
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