Published on May 28, 2020

Sunlight and health, from the earliest human civilizations to our current battle with COVID-19, have an inseparable link. Dr. John Fielder’s exceptionally well-written paper, History of Heliotherapy provides insight into the past. Many ancients deified sunlight. The populations of those times had no doubt of its healing powers. Hippocrates, the Greek physician known as the “father of medicine,” recommended sunbathing and had his own large solarium-an enclosed area for sunning. This was also true of ancient Romans, whose thermae (hot tubs and baths) were equipped with solaria. The Roman philosopher Pliny wrote, “Sun is the best remedy.”

Sunlight and health maintained a link well into the 20th century.

In the early 19th Century, scientists began to experiment with sun as a healer and were so impressed with their results they attempted to build a new system of therapeutics based on heliotherapy. In 1857, Madame Duhamel exposed children with TB to sunshine because it hastened their recovery. Many other doctors used heliotherapy with great success. Dr. Fielder states, “As a general rule, the experience of all the hygienists in their use of sunbathing was so successful all question of doubt as to its place in the hygienic system was ensured.”

Though nothing has really changed regarding sunlight and health, doubts about the relationship have crept in.

In the early 20th Century, people noticed that farmers developed common skin cancers on their faces and hands. This news began the war on sunlight. Nevertheless, the sun held its own for some time, because research also showed sunlight had anti-cancer properties. This idea triggered a 1932 editorial in The Lancet medical journal suggesting sunlight was so effective in promoting health that the government should set aside public areas for nude sunbathing! (Dawson, Lord. Naked and Unashamed. Lancet 6, 1932:688.)

Then, it was decided, regrettably, that since common skin cancer was associated with sunlight, that sunlight must also cause melanoma, the deadly skin cancer. A new fear had been born, along with a new industry-sunscreen and medical profits. Even though moderate, regular sun exposure protects against melanoma, this fear vs fact-based decision launched an all-out assault on the sun. It continues today. Unfortunately, it has become ‘rewarding’ to the industry that provides tanning lotions and treatments for the cancers. More about this can be learned when viewing the video, Vitamin D: Skin Cancer/Sunscreen – the Dilemma, by Dr. Edward Gorham. Our efforts now are to display the physical and medical costs associated with that point of view.

To dispel the myths, here are the facts about melanoma:

Thus, melanoma increases as sun exposure decreases. There is much need to provide the education and data to everyone so they can avoid blaming the sun.

Here are more facts about melanoma and its prevention:

So, since melanoma continues to increase in lock step with reduced sun exposure, should we continue to blame the sun?

We have destroyed the misconception that sunlight is a major cause of melanoma. Let us proceed to the magnificent health-protective effects of regular, non-burning sun exposure against other diseases:

  • Recent research from Indonesia shows that COVID-19 patient deaths are approximately 20 times higher among those with vitamin D levels less than 20 ng/ml as those who have levels greater than 30 ng/ml. Had the researchers had a population of subjects whose vitamin D levels measured greater than 50 ng/ml, I would predict no deaths at all. The chart below, from GrassrootsHealth, is telling. Remember sun exposure to the body produces 90% of serum vitamin D levels (in non-supplementing individuals). Therefore, we see the profound effect sun exposure could have on COVID-19.

Click to Enlarge & Print

Indonesians have taken this research seriously. Below is a photo of Indonesian men “social distancing” in the sunlight.

Sunlight and Health: More facts regarding the influence of sun exposure on disease.

  • Influenza diminishes almost to nothing during late spring, summer, and early fall – times of greatest sun exposure and vitamin D production. See the chart below, produced by the WHO and provided by Goran Olsson of Moscow, Russia. We don’t yet have annual data for COVID-19, a “flu-like” disease, but it did emerge in the northern hemisphere in winter when sun exposure and vitamin D levels are low.

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Finally, as part of my analysis of sunlight’s positive powers, I, along with my coauthor, Dr. Bill Grant, performed an analysis of the number of deaths caused by diseases associated with high sun exposure. Then we performed another analysis of the number of deaths associated with diseases of sun deprivation. We then compared them. Here are the deaths for diseases of low sun exposure:

Diseases associated with low sun exposure in the USA

Disease Year Deaths
Osteoporosis 2005 71,280
Osteoarthritis 2004 500
Rheumatoid arthritis 1998 2,060
Bladder cancer 2016 16,390
Brain cancer 2016 16,050
Breast Cancer 2016 40,980
Cervical cancer 2016 4,074
Colon cancer 2016 49,190
Endometrial cancer 2016 10,470
Gallbladder cancer 2016 3,710
Kidney cancer 2016 14,240
Lung cancer 2016 158,080
Leukemia 2016 24,400
Lymphoma 2016 21,270
Multiple myeloma 2016 12,650
Oral and pharyngeal cancer 2016 9,570
Ovarian cancer 2016 14,240
Pancreatic cancer 2016 34,920
Prostate cancer 2016 26,120
Thyroid cancer 2016 1,980
Cardiovascular disease 2015 801,000
Diabetes 2010 69,071
Crohn’s disease 2004 825
Asthma 2010 4,000
Influenza 2010 36,000
Pneumonia 2016 53,282
Septicemia 2012 35,000
HIV – AIDS 2013 6,995
Necrotizing fasciitis 2010 200
Tuberculosis 2014 555
COPD 2009 145,575
Total annual deaths, approximated 1,684,677


There were few deaths from diseases associated with high sun exposure-approximately 5,125. There are, according to our calculations, approximately 1,684,677 yearly deaths caused by diseases associated with low sun exposure compared to 5125 deaths from diseases associated with high sun exposure, producing a ratio of approximately 328:1. Based on this analysis, we concluded that it defies common sense to continue the anti-sun campaigns prevalent today. This ratio proves beyond doubt that regular, non-burning sun exposure (without sunscreens) should be encouraged as a prudent precaution, to yield a highly beneficial effect on health statistics. This ratio should make anti-sun advocates think twice about suggesting that we avoid sun exposure.

With COVID-19 attacking us like a bad horror movie, we must act now to stop the carnage, and bring the citizens back into the sunlight.

For more information, visit sunlightinstitute.org and read the book, Embrace the Sun.

Happy Sunning!

Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D to Help Yourself?

We’re in a time of great crisis that could be greatly affected by making sure you and everyone you know has a serum level of at least 40 ng/ml. Help us help you.

Do you know what your vitamin D level is? Be sure to test today to find out, and take steps to keep it within a target of 40-60 ng/ml or 100-150 nmol/L! Give your immune system the nutrients it needs to support a healthy you and protect yourself from unnecessary diseases.

GrassrootsHealth Nutrient Research Institute is preparing to do a Community RCT with the use of our myData-myAnswers nutrient health system that over 15,000 people are already using for their health. We will demonstrate how one can use the Nutrient Research Model established by Dr. Robert Heaney to establish the effect of vitamin D serum levels of at least 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/L) on risk reduction with different ethnicities in the population. Please let us know if you’re interested in helping sponsor this project.

Through GrassrootsHealth Nutrient Research Institute, you can also test your essential elements magnesium, copper, zinc and selenium, toxins such as lead, mercury and cadmium, as well as your omega-3 levels, inflammation levels and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) level. Find out your levels today! Log on to the test selection page (click the link below) to get your tests and see for yourself if your levels can be improved.

Make sure you track your results before and after, about every 6 months!

Click Here to Access the Test Page

How can I track my nutrient intake and levels over time?

To help you track your supplement use and nutrient levels, GrassrootsHealth has created the Personal Health Nutrient Decision System called

For each specific supplement, you can track what days you take it, how much, and many other details.  This will help you know your true supplemental intake and what patterns of use work for you to reach and maintain optimum nutrient levels.  Check it out today!