Medical authorities from the World Health Organization, the American Cancer Society, to the Surgeon General warn about excess sun exposure—and for good reason, given the millions of skin cancers and thousands of deaths diagnosed every year in the United States alone.

The UV rays in sunlight are considered to be a complete carcinogen, meaning they can not only initiate cancer, but promote its progression and spread. Melanoma is the scariest, which makes its rising incidence in young women especially alarming. The increase has been blamed on greater usage of tanning salons. Tanning beds and UV rays in general are class 1 carcinogens, like processed meat, and account for as many as three quarters of melanoma cases among young people and six times the risk of melanoma for those who visited tanning salons ten or more times before the age of 30.

I do not recommend tanning beds as they can be both ineffective and dangerous. The lamps emit mostly UVA which increases melanoma skin cancer risk without producing vitamin D.

Alcohol consumption may also play a role in skin cancer. Most of the cancers associated with alcohol use are in the digestive tract, from mouth cancer, throat cancer, and stomach cancer down to cancers of the liver and colon. These involve tissues with which alcohol comes in more direct contact. But why skin cancer?

Excessive alcohol drinking has been found to be associated with higher rates of sunburn, perhaps because heavy and binge drinking may be markers for an underlying willingness to ignore risks to our health and that breakdown products of alcohol in the body generate such massive numbers of free radicals that they eat up the antioxidants that protect our skin from the sun.

Plants produce their own protection against sun damage, and we can expropriate these built-in protectors by eating plants to function as cell protectors within our own bodies. One might say fruit and vegetables provide the best polypharmacy—the best drug store—against the development of cancer.

For substantiation of any statements of fact from the peer-reviewed medical literature, please see the associated videos below.

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