Helios 1: The Sun Causes Skin Cancer…Sort Of

This short series is intended to clear up the gross misunderstanding that is so damn pervasive it makes me want to fly to Singapore and count by hand how many people have skin cancer. I’d be back in a week. That said…

The sun DOES cause skin cancer!

…but only if our lifestyle is completely out of sync with the natural environment.

Prior to anthropogenic sources of electromagnetic radiation or our ability to travel across latitude lines in mere hours, the sun provided nothing but health.

Skin cancer etiology and the mechanisms involved are complex, this is certain. But ultimately skin cancer results from three primary factors. And the more you are impacted by these, the greater likelihood you’ll develop skin cancer:

1) disrupted optical signaling in the skin
2) chronic exposure to unbalanced electromagnetic spectrum
3) lack of sulfated vitamin D & sulfated cholesterol

If the sun were responsible for skin cancer, we’d have been extinct long ago. Life adapted with the sun. And it thrives because of the sun. Many factors in our environment have changed over the millennia; oxygen levels, temperature, nitrogen levels, atmospheric conditions, among others…but the sun has remained resolute for all of Earth’s known history

Disrupted Optical Signaling In the Skin

Imagine a prism and how it scatters light. Beautiful rainbows result from white light. And the pattern that results is dependent on the angles and optical properties of the prism’s material. Some of the light even gets absorbed by the prism material. This occurs in the skin as well. Light naturally penetrates the skin. Each light frequency penetrating to different depths and resulting in different biological signals and mechanisms in the body.

Our skin is a complex organ containing many layers and a variety of structures. Light is scattered, reflected, and absorbed based on the structure and internal composition of the skin. The thickness of various layers, the amount of melanin, and various other physical characteristics determine how light (and all EMF) is handled. A perfectly black object absorbs all light. While a yellow object will reflect yellow and absorb every other frequency contained within the light. And remember, we can only see a small portion of the light (electromagnetic) spectrum. The color of our skin is only one aspect of our ability to properly handle light.

If your skin is unable to handle the electromagnetic radiation it is impinged with, excessive oxidative damage occurs, poor biochemical signaling takes place, and you set the stage for diseases like cancer and accelerate the signs of aging. You know these as wrinkles and age spots. Notice that this phenomenon includes all electromagnetic radiation, not just solar radiation.

Unbalanced Electromagnetic Spectrum

Unbalanced electromagnetic radiation exposure results from unnatural increases in various parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. Some of the anthropogenic sources include:Basic RGB

  • radio transmission
  • television transmission
  • Wi-Fi
  • bluetooth
  • cell phones
  • household wiring
  • microwave ovens
  • x-ray machines
  • airport millimeter wave scanners
  • common artificial lighting
  • low quality tanning beds

Too often it is said that excess UVB causes cancer or excess UVA causes cancer. But there have been many research papers, that show a number of other frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum lead to increased skin cancer rates when they’re in excess. Our skin adapted to handle and make use of balanced solar radiation at sea level. Our skin did not adapt to handle anthropogenic Wi-Fi emitting from hundreds of millions of tech devices.

Lack of Sulfated Vitamin D & Sulfated Cholesterol

Another major factor involves a lack of sulfated Vitamin D3 in the body. Sulfated Vitamin D can only come from breast milk, raw dairy, or endogenous production through UVB+infrared light’s interaction with the skin. The body is unable to sulfate Vitamin D3 in pill or supplement form, so these sources ofter little or no cancer protection.

Sulfated Vitamin D is our body armor. Again…the sulfated form. This quasi-hormone we produce is protective in a myriad of ways. The total body protection supplied by sulfated Vitamin D is part of our natural adaptation to the solar spectrum. The other major protective molecule formed by the sun and really isn’t talked about much, is cholesterol sulfate.

We have a major lifestyle issue in Western culture that includes a major lack of time spent in the sun year-round, blocking sun from entering the eye, and covering much of our bodies with clothes and hats when outdoors. And when we do expose our skin to the sun, we lather on sunscreen preventing absorption of UV light. Most sunscreens introduce another issue that exacerbates the problem. The aluminum contained within them not only blocks UVB, inhibiting our ability to sulfate the cholesterol in our skin. But this aluminum can also change the optics in our skin, accumulate in heme groups (displacing iron), and prevent Vitamin D activation in the liver. Aluminum has three ways of blocking beneficial processes initiated by sunlight, all of which should result from what little UVB one might happened to get after all that effort to avoid sun exposure.

Both vitamin D sulfate & cholesterol sulfate help protect against cancer. But if there is a lack of cholesterol in the skin, or the cholesterol can’t be sulfated properly, the beneficial sulfate cannot make its way around the body to the areas needed to help protect against disease. And if you can’t sulfate Vitamin D in the skin and activate Vitamin D in the liver, blood levels of Vitamin D, measured as “25(OH)D”, will be low. Consequently blood levels of Vitamin D, measured as “1,25(OH)2D” after conversion by the kidney’s will also be low, impairing proper calcium absorption.

While there are of course other factors that contribute to any and all disease states, including skin cancer, the three factors above are the primary, foundational reasons skin cancer rates continue to climb despite the massive increased use of sunscreen and increased time spent shielded from the sun’s rays. These three factors also shed light (yep, that was a pun) on the correlation between skin cancer rates and latitude and skin pigmentation. As an aside, elevation also plays a role as there is less atmosphere to assist in the dampening effects of solar radiation.

The Bottom Line

  • If you live in a technologically advanced culture, the sun is more protective and more necessary now than ever before, as we need it to help balance the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation and to increase amounts of protective Vitamin D sulfate.
  • If you get sun from all seasons and live in a natural environment, it should be nearly impossible to get too much sun.
  • In the rare chance, you live in harmony with nature, aren’t surrounded by anthropogenic sources of EMF, you get adequate sun from all seasons, and your genetic heritage has a basis that is much further from the equator than your actual location, your seasonal adaptation may or may not be adequate to endure endless sun exposure. In which case, some shade or clothing may benefit you. However, you may be just fine as Vitamin D sulfate should be through the roof and your skin chemistry optimized. I have never come across a case such as this, although it may exist.

I’m sure there will be plenty of questions resulting from this post as I didn’t go into great detail explaining the precise mechanisms that back up these assertions. I plan to address the deeper aspects in later posts. But please feel free to post questions or comments below and I will try to address them in upcoming blogs.

About The Author

Jason Prall is a nationally-recognized speaker, performance coach, Functional Nutritionist, and leading expert in lifelong, optimized health. As a frequent contributor to a variety of health and wellness publications, founder of Calyx Performance, and the host of the You Optimized Radio podcast, Jason's revolutionary and innovative approach has transformed the lives of thousands of people around the world with simple, practical, and powerful solutions to combat chronic health conditions and drastically improve quality of life.


  1. Richelle Jones

    Excellent article! Been arguing all week with my dad (who has had melanoma) about this. This is a good sized article that he will read.

    1. Jason Prall

      Thanks for sharing Richelle!

  2. Anders

    I had REALLY big problems with the sun before.. My cheeks got so red and painfull after only 10 minutes in the sun. Always wearing sunblock. Now, after doing a Ketogenic diet high in omega 3s for a while my tolerance is waaay better! I guess my vitamin D level was low as shiet too.. I live way up north(Oslo) so I use sunbeds twice a week + some D3 during winter time.

    1. Jason Prall

      In Oslo, you can use the cold water (and air) to improve your ability to capture light, Anders! You have a gift of the cold up there…don’t let it go to waste! Sauna, cold bath, sauna, cold bath. I love Oslo, btw.

  3. Barry

    burning question that I cannot get an answer from Jack Kruse or . . . If one cannot relocate to AZ or a Sun state . . . live in cold and Ice, can one get some minimal Red light therapy and minimum UVB to generate the missing Vit D ??? Thank you so much for the intel, forwarding this article to many . . . by the way, I am a 20 year survivor of Level 4 Melanoma . . . and I fully believe and subscribe to what you write

    1. Jason Prall

      Wow! Good on ya for recovering, seeking, and spreading info, Barry. Very good question too. Living in cold and ice, you may not need as much Vitamin D. Cold, IR light, and minimal UV may be natures perfect combo without the need to generate loads of Vitamin D. Keep seeking the answer to this, and if you come across anything, I’d love to hear about it!

  4. TerrierMom

    I’m still struggling to understand, if you cannot assimilate light well, and are broken, how do you know a) that sun isn’t assimilating for you and b) assuming you work on improving light water and magnetism, how you know when you CAN assimilate sun well? Do you just go by D in labs? (Ie if you’re getting sun but still have low D, something is broken?). Great article though getting the basics out there with some nice visuals to boot!

    1. Jason Prall

      From my experience, you can gauge assimilation through your ability to absorb UV from the sun without burning as readily as you might have previously. So its all relative to your own capacity to do so. D in labs is one way but I don’t think it is the only way and it probably isn’t the best way. While there isn’t science to back up the following assertion, my guess is that 25(OH)D as measured on labs ins’t 100% correlated with our ability to capture and assimilate UV light from the sun. My intuition is that its all about your relative ability to avoid burning.

  5. DorisL

    Easy to understand, well thought out. Wonderful. Thank you!

    1. Jason Prall

      Thank you DorisL!

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