In my youth I was an avid sun-worshipper, slathering myself in baby oil (and Jif lemon in my hair to blonde it) and really loving having a tan. The fact I am very blonde with albino eyelashes and a pale skin didn’t hold me back – I looked better brown. As most of us do.
Then I got bloody melanoma and that was it – my love affair with the sun was definitely off.
In fact, on a recent holiday to an Italian hotspot I was the only person to go home whiter than when I arrived – thanks to the spray tan I had before I left that gradually wore off as my days under the umbrella went by.
But now I am happy to hear the latest research on sun and melanoma shows that it might actually help prevent cancer to get a reasonable dose of the yellowy stuff. That’s if because the sun on our skin helps our bodies produce Vitamin D – which is being hailed for its cancer-protecting properties. The lovely* Prof Angus Dalgleish, who has specialised in melanoma at St George’s in Tooting has written in the Daily Mail that “Lots of sun actually means lots of Vitamin D and potentially a lower risk of melanoma”.
Nobody really knows how much sun or how much Vitamin D is optimum for each individual. But the chances are that living in a country like England where the sun doesn’t have much D-producing oomph for six months of the year, we should probably all be taking a supplement.
So am I prone in my garden now, soaking up the rays? Sadly not. I will be gulping down the vitamin D and continuing to cover up. Why?
It’s not melanoma that worries me now – it’s wrinkles!
If you’ve had melanoma I would love to hear how you do or don’t do sun.
*I describe him as lovely because when I was ill I went to see him to try and get the melanoma vaccine. (This was after a year of rigorous naturopathic therapy and doing pretty well but wanting to get an insurance policy against further disease.) I was really thrilled when Prof Dalgleish turned me down, telling me I just wasn’t sick enough. In fact, I was well and didn’t need the vaccine. Just what you want to hear from an oncologist!