Say goodbye to skin cancer

Question: I've read your advice on increasing vitamin D levels by getting plenty of sunshine, but my concern is that I've had skin cancer in the past and my doctor warned me that going out in the sun without sunscreen will make it return. Is there anything I can do to prevent that from happening?

Dr. Wright: Skin cancer is actually relatively common, but it's not the killer the media makes it out to be. In fact, it's usually found and treated early and is rarely fatal -- or even serious.

The problem is that, for many people, skin cancer keeps coming back even after they've been treated for one case. But recurrent skin cancer doesn't have to be a fact of life. The answer is often as simple as using retinoic acid, which can significantly decrease skin cancer recurrences or stop them altogether.

Retinoic acid is a form of vitamin A that is naturally present in the skin in very small quantities. It works by delivering a message to the DNA in the nucleus of skin cells, telling them to divide normally and not to "go cancerous." Sun exposure makes this "message delivery" much less effective, which can allow skin cancer to occur. But, as you read previously, we all need sun exposure in order to get enough vitamin D, which is a critical aspect of a huge list of body functions.

This is where supplemental retinoic acid steps in: It aids in delivering messages to the DNA that tell it to divide normally.

Retinoic acid obviously isn't the only factor in skin cancer prevention, but it's an important one that those people who have had recurring cases of skin cancer can use to reduce your risk or prevent it altogether.

Retinoic acid is sold as Retin-A (yes, that's the same Retin-A that teenagers use against acne) and is available by prescription only.

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About the author


Jonathan V. Wright, M.D. has degrees from both Harvard University (cum laude) and the University of Michigan. More than any other doctor, he practically invented the modern science of applied nutritional biochemistry and he has advanced nutritional medicine for nearly three decades.

As of today, Dr. Wright has received over 35,000 patient visits at his now-famous Tahoma Clinic in Washington State.

To learn more about Dr. Wright, and to sign up for his free Health e-Tips eLetter, please visit


Anonymous's picture


so vitamin a is retinol that's derived strictly from animal fat? and THAT is then converted to retinoids (retinal, retinoic acid and retinyl esters)?

all plant sources of "vitamin a" are pre-cursors (provitamin) to vitamin a... these plant based compounds (alpha, beta*, gamma carotene, xanthophyll beta-cryptoxanthi) are responsible for pigment and photosynthesis in plants and cannot be produced by animals. They are converted in the small intestine to retinal, retinoic acid.

*MOST readily converted to retinal.

However instead of taking retinoic acid, perhaps its best to take retinol (by eating liver), and let the body decide what it needs from it?

Anonymous's picture

Denys Frappier

About 6 years ago, I was diagnosed with 3 Spindle cell carcinoma in my face; 1 lesion on the right side just near the ear and 2 lesions on the left side same place' I was told my by oncologist and dermatologist to have them remove.
I had the one lesion on the right side remove, but not the left side. I read from one article about treating skin cancer by applying TEA THREE OIL. a COUPLE WEEKS LATER BOTH LESIONS HAD VANISHED, NO SCAR, NOTHING. I play golf and get in the sun, I lived in Morocco up until recently, impeccable skin, except the surgical side shows a small scar but nothing on the left side.Try it, and buy a very small bottle. DF
Cost 11.00$ and I still have enough to treat 100 more lesions

Anonymous's picture


I think we have all been made to believe that melanoma is caused by sunshine, thus the terror and slathering on of expensive toxic substances. Good marketing ploy. But most melanomas are found in non sun-exposed areas of the body. An article which firmly disassociates sun and melanoma would kill this association, and make us all healthier as we soak up more vitamin D, which we sorely lack.

Anonymous's picture


My brother and uncle in Australia both had melanomas - it is lucky that they found it before it spread to other organs.

Yes, there is a form of skin cancer that isn't "the killer the media makes it out to be", but melanoma is and must not be underestimated. I would like others to know that skin cancer of THIS type can be deadly.

Anonymous's picture


My husband has been diagnosed with malignant melanoma in situ.
dermatologist recommends scraping, freezing, & burning the area (which is between his eyebrows and toward the eyes), then applying an acid cream, ALDARA. We need help to find other treatment!!!

Anonymous's picture


but retinol and vitamin A in sunscreen creams IS one of responsible for melanomas and actually prevents vitamin D from proper functioning-how you explain that contradiction?you cat take as much as you want beta carotene and let your body to deside how much it will convert into active retinol but taking retinol itself isnt good idea as much as I understood from vitamin D expert-Dr John Cannel .shed some light on this'please

Anonymous's picture


Alice - seems to still be a problem with comments. Any luck?

Anonymous's picture


Okay - now it shows up after I clicked my comment to you. Not to be a pain about it, but it is frustrating. Thanks!

Anonymous's picture


Unfortunately, we've been told to slather on the sunscreen to avoid cancer, but that's a double-edged sword. I remember reading a study done at UC Riverside in California a few years ago that showed that there was more free radical formation after an hour on hands that used sunscreen than on hands that used no protection at all. It appears that many of the ingredients in sunscreens are toxic. And alot of them are using "nanoparticles" (particularly zinc) which doesn't appear to be a good idea either. This is an interesting article:
You can go to which is the website for the Environmental Working Group and check out their ratings for sunscreen. We have to remember that our skin is the largest organ of the body. Let's treat it kindly.

Anonymous's picture


The few and last time I used sunscreen, applied just to my lower arms for driving on a very sunny day, a half hour later I got a severe headache which I attributed to the chemicals in the sunscreen being absorbed by bloodstream -- my body didn't like it one bit! Now I use driving sleeves or drape a cloth over hands & arms.

Anonymous's picture


I heard that rubbing Garlic on skin cancer can Cure it, Would anyone wish to Enlighten me on that? m.c.

Anonymous's picture


Astaxanthin (4-8 mg per day) is a natural sunscreen.

Recent research indicated that topical Vitamin A in its various forms whilst in the sun could lead to skin cancer. Never use a sunscreen containing vitamin A.

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