Lights and shadows in the health of the astral king

Lights and shadows in the health of the astral king

The ancient Greeks as well as the Romans believed that a beautiful god traveled through the sky every day with his chariot and golden crown until he reached the ocean that surrounded the earth. During the night, he rode his solar bulls back to the east, to stretch the fabric of day again the next morning. For these cultures, Apollo symbolized light and the sun, as well as medicine and healing, and they attributed to him the ability to heal, but also to cause diseases.

The truth is that the Sun, a star that has been with us since our planet was formed 4.6 billion years ago, is essential for life to exist; Its light made the Earth habitable, gave rise to the first living organisms, and regulates the life cycles of all the inhabitants of our world. In the case of humans, it also brings a myriad of benefits, both for physical and mental health. However, exposing ourselves to it without protection on a continuous basis also has important risks.

“The sun is essential for health. It regulates our emotional state and biorhythms and helps us synthesize vitamin D, which is essential for bone health,” explains Jordi Rubio, an oncologist specializing in skin cancer at the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO) in Girona.

He now points out that, like almost everything in life, it is “a matter of measurement”, because excessive exposure to this star’s ultraviolet radiation could eventually lead to cancer. “Solar radiation is a factor that we know can cause skin cancer. In fact, we have seen an increase in cases of melanoma, the most aggressive type of skin tumor, among generations born in the 1960s and 1970s, because at that time it became fashionable to go to the beach and take Sunbathing without using protection. Rubio says.

Benefits of the sun

But let’s move on. Although we have been repeatedly told in recent decades that excessive exposure to sunlight, especially skin burns, increases the risk of skin cancer, the truth is that we need sunlight for the proper functioning of the body and mind.

The well-known composition of vitamin D, which is necessary to keep bones and teeth in good condition, is only the tip of the iceberg. Unlike other vitamins that we can get from food, D is primarily synthesized by the skin via direct exposure to ultraviolet radiation. The body converts it into different molecules to benefit from its full potential. For example, to be able to absorb calcium and phosphorus, which helps ensure good clotting and avoid osteoporosis, a disease that causes, in advanced periods of life, in both men and women, the bones to become thinner and weaker and thus vulnerable to fractures. In fact, severe vitamin D deficiency can lead to an extremely painful disease called osteomalacia, which is the remineralization of bones.

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We have in our DNA at least 1,000 different genes that regulate the body’s tissues and which scientists believe are in turn controlled by vitamin D, such as genes involved in neuromuscular function. These nutrients are necessary for nerves to transmit messages between the brain and other parts of the body, as well as for the immune system to fight bacteria and viruses.

Beyond Vitamin D

We live on a sunny planet, which means our organisms are adapted to make the most of this energy source. For example, the skin contains a lot of molecules that respond to sunlight; The most obvious is melanin, the pigment that gives them color and also protects them from ultraviolet rays. Although it is worth saying that this protection is limited, it is not enough to spend a whole day on the beach exposed without anything else, because it will not prevent us from burns, stains, or skin aging.

Sunbathing makes us feel relaxed and improves our mood. This is because when UVB rays activate melanin production, beta-endorphin is also released, a hormone that helps manage pain and relieve feelings of stress, giving us a feeling of well-being.

There are scientific studies that have proven that there is a relationship between exposure to sunlight and lower blood pressure, which in turn leads to a lower risk of death. The reason is that the interaction of ultraviolet rays with the skin releases reserves of nitrogen oxide, which leads to the expansion of the arteries. This lowers the pressure. Another effect associated with sunbathing is that it provides certain protection against metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions that increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease. It also helps prevent diseases of the immune system, such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and infectious diseases.


Our internal clock is on time!

All cells, tissues and organs in our body are governed by an internal clock that dictates what functions they must perform at any given moment. This clock, called the circadian rhythm, tells us when we feel hungry or sleepy, what our body temperature is or when, for example, to repair an injury. It is important that we expose ourselves to the sun to regulate this circadian rhythm and synchronize it with the rhythm of the planet. This, for example, will help us enjoy good, restful sleep.

In addition, exposure to sunlight is linked to the release of serotonin in the body, a molecule that puts us in a better mood, as well as promoting calm and focus. Likewise, endorphins, a natural opiate, are produced.

…and the cross: or what are the dangers of exposing yourself to the sun

However, the sun is a double-edged sword. The first hints that it might be linked to an increased risk of skin cancer appeared in the 1920s, when British researchers noticed that mice regularly exposed to ultraviolet light developed skin tumors. Since then, several studies have found that solar radiation causes mutations in the DNA of cells, which may contribute to the development of skin cancer.

“There are three types – explains Rubio, of ICO Girona -: melanoma, which is the most well-known and has the worst prognosis; squamous cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma. “Squamous carcinoma is the most common and also the slowest. “It only takes surgery to remove and treat it,” says the oncologist. These pests are associated with constant exposure to the sun and are characteristic of professionals, such as farmers or fishermen.

On the other hand, melanoma does not require prolonged exposure. “A subset of these tumors are associated with recreational exposure in the summer or on weekends, when the sun touches us more intensely,” Rubio explains.

In addition to causing DNA damage to skin cells, another reason why excessive exposure to sunlight can increase the risk of skin cancer is that it slows the activity of cells, the immune system that, in theory, identifies cells that have damage to their DNA. And destroy it. . This, which is a protective factor for autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, where there is an overactivity of the body’s defense system that mistakenly attacks brain and nerve cells, is a disadvantage for cancer. In addition, overexposure can cause cataracts.

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And then what do we do?

Well, “take the sun with caution”, advises the oncologist at ICO Girona, who emphasizes that it is better to be exposed to the sun’s rays for a short and frequent period to enjoy its benefits, rather than to subject ourselves to longer or more intense sunbathing, especially in spring and summer.

“The sun is not an enemy, but it must be approached with care: enjoy it, but protect yourself from it, and avoid overexposure. “At the slightest sign that might make you suspicious, see your GP,” he concludes.

How long should you sunbathe?

Researchers from the Polytechnic University of Valencia conducted a study in which they measured the recommended amount of sun exposure to obtain health benefits without risking skin cancer. They calculated that without burning the skin, during the spring and summer, it would take between 10 and 20 minutes, while in the winter this amount would rise to two hours. Scientists from the Solar Radiation Research Group found that at these times the equivalent of a daily intake of 1,000 IU of vitamin D, which is the recommended amount, was obtained.

The results were obtained taking into account the most common skin type on the peninsula, therefore these recommendations should be adapted according to the skin type. Scientists insist that it is not the same as a red-haired person with very white skin and freckles, or with very thin hair, or with a family history, compared to someone who is already dark.

For Jordi Rubio, from ICO Girona, it is important to check our skin and be aware of possible infections.

“It is advisable to go to a primary care consultation if you have a freckle or spot that changes shape, is asymmetrical, has irregular margins, or is discolored; or that has grown or is bleeding. It is important to consult a doctor as soon as possible,” he summarizes and emphasizes that skin cancers that Being diagnosed in the early stages can have a better prognosis.

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