Tag: UV

Penis Health Depends On 9 Specific Vitamins And Minerals

By now, most men are aware that staying healthy depends on eating right, getting regular exercise, and making appropriate lifestyle choices concerning the use of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, as well as being selective when choosing sexual partners. However, not everyone is aware that maintaining optimum mens health requires specialized care of the penis. This sensitive organ is prone to a variety of health issues, which may be avoided by treating penis skin with a combination of these 9 penis-specific vitamins and minerals.

Acetyl L carnitine

This important amino acid is essential to maintaining cell structure and healing skin cells that have been damaged by friction, environmental contaminants and aging. In addition, acetyl L carnitine is indicated for repairing penile nerves that have been compromised by aggressive masturbation or sex, helping to maintain the sensitivity that is needed for healthy sexual performance.

Alpha lipoic acid

This powerful antioxidant has been shown to counteract the effects of environmental damage (which may occur as a result of harmful UV rays, certain food additives, use of tobacco products or the chemicals found in many soaps and detergents), as well as to slow the aging process. Alpha lipoic acid used in conjunction with acetyl L carnitine may reduce the appearance of wrinkling and promote elasticity of the penile skin.

L-arginine

L-arginine is yet another amino acid which provides important penis health benefits. This enzyme is essential to maintaining the structural integrity of the blood vessels and capillaries. Sufficient levels of L-arginine can help to ensure proper blood flow to the penis, which is necessary to avoid penis health problems such erectile dysfunction and the appearance of broken capillaries under the skin.

Shea butter

Shea butter is an ingredient in many moisturizers and other skin products. This naturally-occurring ingredient is noted for helping the skin to retain vital moisture, protecting against drying, and chafing. Shea butter speeds the healing of dry or irritated skin, preventing long-term skin damage that may lead to a wrinkled or roughened appearance.

Vitamin A

This essential nutrient has numerous healing properties. It is especially noted as an anti-bacterial agent, helping to protect against infection as well as eliminating odor-causing bacteria that thrive in the genital area. Vitamin A also helps to maintain the structure of skin cells, lending a youthful appearance.

Vitamin B5

This important vitamin is essential to good overall health. It plays an important role in cell metabolism and provides immune system support. Vitamin B5 is necessary for maintaining good skin tone, as well as overall penis health.

Vitamin C

Most people already know about the disease-fighting properties of vitamin C. In addition, this nutrient is important in the production of collagen, which provides structural support to the skin cells and is needed to maintain healthy penile tissue. Vitamin C also plays an essential role in circulatory system support and is necessary for proper erectile function.

Vitamin D

Protection against radiation, immune system support, and maintaining a healthy metabolism are just a few of the functions of this important nutrient. Vitamin D is essential to maintaining good penis condition and promoting male sexual health.

Vitamin E

Among its numerous healing properties, Vitamin E is noted for keeping the skin hydrated and protecting against environmental damage. Vitamin E is essential to maintaining healthy, youthful-looking skin and supporting overall penis health.

While most of these ingredients are available as dietary supplements, the oral preparations available from your local pharmacy or vitamin store are often absorbed by the bodys major organs and never reach the targeted destination – the penis. The penis benefits provided by these nutrients can be most easily obtained through use of a penis health crme (most health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil), which is applied topically and absorbed directly into the penis skin for maximum effectiveness. These penis-specific vitamins, minerals, and amino acids provide numerous mens health benefits that keep you feeling great and performing at your best.

Can What You Eat Really Affect Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is something we are all well aware of. The dangers are constantly around us, and we are led to believe that the only way we can possibly get skin cancer, is if we expose our skin to too much sunlight without wearing protection.

However, there are some studies which claim that what we eat can also have a drastic effect on our chances of developing the condition. On the other hand some studies say that our diet cannot affect the condition. So what are we supposed to believe? Can our diet really affect our chances of getting skin cancer? Or is it just a load of rubbish?

Skin Cancer and Our Diet

There is also some kind of research going on in order to find links between our lifestyle and cancer. We all know that our diet affects our skin, but did you know that your diet could also affect skin cancer?

The suns UV levels are apparently a good source of vitamin D for our bodies. Whilst that may be true, there are people that go off into the sun without adequate protection, thinking that Vitamin D will help them reduce the risk of skin cancer, as well as other cancers, and that they will not be harmed because Vitamin D is good for them.

However, whilst it is true that the sun does help our bodies to have a higher Vitamin D production, it is still well known for giving us skin cancer. This means that we need to get our Vitamin D from other sources, for example in our diets.

It is thought that fatty diets increase our risk of developing skin cancer. Studies have been done on mice, where scientists have underfed a group of them, exposed them to chemicals which promote skin cancer, and they have found that fewer underfed mice developed the condition compared to the other group of mice who did not have their calorie intake reduced.

So this showed that somehow, eating healthier and having a calorie restricted diet, somehow helped to promote a protective hormone, which stopped some of the mice developing skin cancer. However, the studies have not shown fully which gland produced the hormone, so those tests are currently incomplete.

There is no denying that the diet plays a big part in our skin condition, and it is more than likely that it does in fact affect our chances of developing skin cancer. So what foods should we be eating?

Oily fish is extremely good for the skin and fish such as salmon can really help to cut chances of skin cancer down. This is because the omega three fatty acids help to repair DNA damage caused by the cancer.

Eating oily fish three times a week has been proven to reduce a persons risk of burning in the sun right down after a month, and after three months, the risk of burning in the sun is further reduced by up to 33%.

However, whilst they may help to cut down the risk, they are still no match for fierce sun levels and sun protection should still be worn.

It is thought that a healthy diet is your best defense against all forms of cancer, and eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables is definitely the way to go! Cutting down on salty and sugary foods is also definitely a good idea, as is increasing the amount of calcium you get daily.

Overall there is research to say that diet affects skin cancer, and research to suggest that it does not. If you are unsure your best bet is to simply eat healthier anyway. Eating healthy is good for the skin whether you are trying to prevent skin cancer or not.

Trying to get at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day is what you should be aiming for, and also cutting down on really fatty foods. If you are unsure about anything you can always consult a doctor or nutritionist and they will be able to give you more advice.

Acne Concealers Ten Best Cosmetic Concealers For Bad Skin

Cosmetic Acne Concealers Overview

When choosing cosmetic acne concealers, skin care experts generally recommend the use of makeup that is mineral based, in simple terms this refers to that fact that the ingredients which form the product base are not synthetic and occur naturally on planet as an organic compound.

The main minerals used for cosmetics are usually mica, zinc oxide, and titanium dioxide and these generally form the basis of loose powder makeup foundation, or just foundation, as it is commonly referred to.

One of the reasons mineral makeups are recommended is that, the minerals themselves usually have good opacity, and therefore they do not require any other synthetic chemicals to make them so, in addition several of the compounds used, notably zinc oxide and titanium dioxide may also prevent irritation and inflammation to skin owing to their inherent properties, it should also be noted that these two compounds are generally to be found as
ingredients in sun creams and lotions as when they are applied their high opacity may help shade the skin from harmful UV sun rays.

Mineral based cosmetics are also generally non-comedogenic, meaning that will will not block the pores of the skin and this is very important for the prevention and cure of acne.

Cosmetic manufacturers seeking to cash in on the current trend toward anti-acne products, are now offering some acne concealers as being totally natural or organic, and while this may be true in the majority of cases, they are not officially classified as organic in the US unless they have official USDA certification.

Criteria For Good Acne Concealers

It can be hard to find a really good concealer if you have acne skin, you may to search long and hard to find one suitable for your particular skin type. A good concealer must have the following attributes:

It must not cause any irritation to the skin

It must not block the skins pores

It needs to be as light as possible

It should have high opacity, meaning you will need to use less

It should match as close as possible your natural skin tone

Be aware that some cosmetics sold as being medicated, and thus suitable for acne sufferers, while these products are used with good results for some people, they may contain the compound salicylic acid which is an acne treatment in its own right, this compound can cause irritation to sensitive skin types. Most of the best concealers are not medicated and do not cause any chemical lightening of the skin, the medicated varieties often have a poor texture to them, and can be hard to apply, they may not contain enough pigment therefore requiring more than one application which can lead to a caked appearance, the colors may also be less than ideal making matching more difficult.

Strictly speaking you should only be using a cosmetic concealer to do just that, do not be tempted by trying to use a medicated concealer as an acne treatment alone as you will most likely just be wasting money.

Summary of Products

Find a brand that meets the above criteria and stick with it, you may find that some of the better carry the biggest price tags, but because of their superior covering power you will need to apply a lot less so they will last a lot longer.
Of course there are hundreds of products available from dozens of different makers, but the ones shown here are the products that have the best ratings overall by consumers that have actually used them as researched for this article.

This list is by no means exhaustive. Some of these products may only be available in the US.

Murad Acne Concealer

Black Opal Cover & Clear Acne

CoverGirl & Olay Simply Ageless

Proactiv Solution Concealer Plus

The Body Shop Tea Tree Concealer

Neutrogena On-the-Spot Blemish Wand

Dermalogica MediBac Clearing Spot Treatment

Benefit Cosmetics Boi-ing

Neutrogena Skin Clearing Liquid Makeup

Judith August Everything Pencil

Clinique Acne Clearing

Dermablends Smooth indulgence

Identify Early warning Signs of Skin Cancer – Do You Have Skin Cancer

An understanding early detection of skin cancer is crucial to prevent experiencing the more serious and dangerous form of skin cancer. From the least to the most dangerous, they are: basal cell carcinoma (or basal cell carcinoma epithelioma), squamous cell carcinoma (the first stage of which is called actinic keratosis) and melanoma.

Cancer is defined as the abnormal growth and division of cells in the body. If this errant growth is restricted to a few cells then it poses no threat to humans. Should it start to spread unchecked by the body’s immune system then it becomes what is termed malignant or cancerous.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can be harmful to the skin and is the main cause of of skin cancer. According to the US National Institutes of Health it damages the DNA that regulates the skin cells. Excessive and long-term exposure to UV, either naturally from the sun or from artificial sources such as sunlamps can lead to skin cancer. In a lesser amount of cases skin cancer can also be inherited genetically.

Asymmetry means irregular shape. Dividing the mole in half with an imaginary line, the top half should look very close to the bottom half or the right side the same as the left side if the mole is normal or benign. Therefore, benign or non-cancerous and non-malignant moles are usually symmetrical or look the same on both sides of the dividing line. If the mole is irregular in shape and both sides do not compare well then this is an indication of a possible skin cancer problem.

Border refers to the outside edge of the mole or spot. A normal or benign mole or growth has smooth and even outer borders. A problematic growth has borders that are described using many different terms such as notched, jagged, scalloped, poorly defined, uneven, or even blurred. In summary, these terms are simply describing an irregularity or lack of smoothness in the borders of the mole or growth.

Color is also one of the five signs of skin cancer. In this case, look for whether the mole has an even color or hue. If the mole has more than one hue, then this could be a cause for concern. Benign growths are generally one color, hue, or shade. Brown is often the normal color, but not always. Cancerous moles can have shades of black mixed into shades of brown or tan. Dashes of red, white, and blue may also appear as the cancer progresses.

Diameter or the size of the mole or growth is one of the five skin cancer signs to be aware of. If the growth is larger than 6 mm or a quarter of an inch, then medical attention should be pursued. In relative terms, the eraser on the end of a pencil is about 6 mm in size. Of course, it is less likely, but possible that growths smaller than this size can be cancerous. Any mole growing in size is a concern and should be examined by a medical professional.

Evolving. The mole has been changing in size, shape, color, appearance, or growing in an area of previously normal skin. Also, when cancer develops in an existing mole, the texture of the mole may change and become hard, lumpy, or scaly. Although the skin may feel different and may itch, ooze, or bleed, cancer usually does not cause pain.

If you find that any change in the texture of the skin, contact your doctor immediately. Any change in skin pigmentation can be a sign of skin cancer.

Author: If you want more information about HEALTH please visit THIS SITE right now.

Natural Cures for Skin Cancer

Cure skin cancer natural supplements alternative treatment Did you know the majority of your sun exposure occurs before the age of 18, but can take years to surface as skin cancer? Get the information you need to participate in your care and recovery.

Beauty is only skin deep. But skin cancer goes much deeper. Teens quest for beauty not worth the cancer risk.

We think that this occurs only to the people of the mother’s age but it occurs to the teenagers also. Skin cancer can be cured at its initial stage with the treatment and the precautions that are to be followed when suggested by the physician. But it goes deeper if it is abandoned for some period after its appearance. So we should be careful enough and take care of our skin.

Skin Cancer occurs mainly in people with fair skin, light eyes, and those who tend to freckle or burn easily during and after exposure to the sunlight. A history of 3 or more sunburns, particularly blistering sunburns (before age 20) greatly increases risk. A history of severe sunburns in childhood and adolescence may actually double the risk of melanoma in adulthood.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the main cause of skin cancer. Energy from the sun actually is a form of radiation. It consists of visible light and other rays that people can’t see. Invisible infrared radiation, for instance, makes sunlight feel hot. UV also is invisible, and causes sunburn and sun tan. UV rays damage DNA, the genetic material that makes up genes. Genes control the growth and overall health of skin cells. If the genetic damage is severe, a normal skin cell may begin to grow in the uncontrolled, disorderly way of cancer cells. UV also can cause sunburn, and other damage that makes the skin look prematurely old and wrinkled.

Two kinds of rays exist in ultraviolet radiation invisible rays in sunlight that cause suntan, sunburn, premature skin aging, and most cases of skin cancer.: * Ultraviolet A (UVA) * Ultraviolet B (UVB)

Some cases of skin cancer, however, may be hereditary and run in families. In those cases, skin cancer is caused by abnormal genes that children inherit from their parents. Genes make parents and children look somewhat alike. They also make them likely to get some of the same diseases.

Anyone can get skin cancer. Although most cases occur in people over age 50 with fair skin, it can develop in younger people, and those with dark skin. In general, an individual’s lifetime exposure to UV light determines his risk. Certain individuals have a risk that is higher than the rest of the population. Included are people who: Have light skin that freckles easily and tends to burn rather than tan. Individuals with blond or red hair and blue or light gray eyes often have fair skin. Live in geographic regions closer to the equator, where sunlight is strongest. Work outdoors or spend lots of time in leisure activities in the sun. Already have had skin cancer. These individuals must take great care to minimize UV exposure and follow other preventive measures.

An adult’s risk of skin cancer may be decided during childhood. Most people get the majority of their lifetime sun exposure before reaching 18 years of age.

Skin cancer first appears as a growth, or abnormal accumulation of cells. It sometimes takes the form of a sore or pimple that does not heal.. Cancer can occur on almost area of the skin, but is most common on areas often exposed to the sun. Skin cancer usually is painless.

The most common indications are: 1. A new growth on the skin. 2. A change in an existing skin growth. 3. A sore that does not heal.

Not all changes in the skin are symptoms of skin cancer. Most moles and other growths are harmless and do not need to be removed. Moles that are unattractive, or in areas where they are constantly irritated by clothing, can be removed by a doctor. The average person has dozens of moles and other skin growths that are benign on-cancerous, a growth that does not spread to other parts of the body or damage normal tissue or non-cancerous. They include:

* Birthmarks or congenital nevi * Acquired moles * Liver spots or solar lentigines, * Seborrheic keratoses * Acquired cherry angiomas * Skin tags * Actinic keratoses

Doctors often measure the success of cancer treatment in terms of the five-year survival rate. A person usually is considered to be cured if he or she is alive and without any trace of skin cancer five years after first being diagnosed. The chances of a cure depend on many factors, including how early the disease was diagnosed and effectively treated.

People who are treated for skin cancer should see their doctor for regular follow-up visits. Follow-up visits allow the doctor to check the tumor site to make sure that the cancer has not come back in the same place, or recurred. If it does recur, additional treatment will be needed.

The individuals who have developed skin cancer once have a higher risk for the disease in other skin sites. Therefore, it is very important for these individuals to have regular medical checkups, examine their skin regularly, and take sun exposure precautions.

The individuals who have developed skin cancer once have a higher risk for the disease in other skin sites. Therefore, it is very important for these individuals to have regular medical checkups, examine their skin regularly, and take sun exposure precautions. Preventing cancer is preferable than treating it.

Treatment for skin cancer depends on several factors including: the stage of the cancer (whether or not it has spread), type of cancer, size and location, and the patient’s general health. Depending on these factors, treatment may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and/or photodynamic therapy (uses drug and certain kind of laser light to kill cancer cells).4 The best treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

The goal of treating skin cancer is to destroy or remove the cancer completely with minimal scarring of your skin. Your treatment options for the disease depend on a number of factors, including the location of the lesion on the skin and the type and stage of the cancer (how far it has spread).

Generally, the treatment for skin cancer will depend on the following:

* The thickness of your cancer * Whether or not it has spread to deeper levels of your skin or other areas of your body * The mitotic index (an indication of how quickly the cancer cells are growing and reproducing) * The number of regional lymph nodes involved * Ulceration or bleeding at the primary site * Microscopic satellites (spreading of pigment from the mole to surrounding skin) * Your age and general health

The following steps are recommended to protect the skin and to prevent skin cancer: * Cover up tightly woven clothing at blocking out sun and keeping it from damaging the skin. * Use sunscreens by frequently apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) * Wear a hat. A wide-brimmed hat is better because it will protect the ears, neck, eyes, forehead, nose and scalp. * Wear UV-absorbent sunglasses. Even inexpensive sunglasses can be effective. * Limit sun exposure. The rays of the sun are the strongest, and thus cause the most damage, between 10am and 4pm. * Avoid tanning beds. Tanning beds are not a safe way to get a tan because they expose the skin to UV radiation, just like the sun does. * Checking medications. Some prescription drugs can increase your sensitivity to sunlight, putting you at greater risk for sunburn.

In addition, all women should schedule regular skin examinations with a doctor. Routine examinations by a doctor qualified to diagnose skin cancer are important for those with a low or normal risk and are especially so for those with an increased risk of developing skin cancer. For individuals who have had skin cancer before, it is best to follow the treating doctor’s recommendations for follow-up care. In between clinical exams, monthly self-examinations are recommended.

If you are not satisfied with the treatments that you have got till now and you are fed up with them. Then here is a line of attack that makes you to find a new life with the herbal treatments given by our specialist with no side effects. Have a look over it and try it for fast curative and get exonerate of it.

Learn about menopause headaches and menopause nausea at the Menopause Diet site.

Environmental Factors That Can Cause Cancer

Indeed, not only food, genetics, and physical activities can harm you and become a risk factor in acquiring cancer. Risk factors like radiation technology, pollution and other activities are also included here. Let us elaborate these other risk factor.

Radiation is the emission of energy from any source; with this case the technology which allows X-rays, ultrasounds and the likes can be a risk factor. Radiation exists across a spectrum from a very high-energy radiation to very-low energy radiation. Like we have said above here are the main forms of radiation:

1.Gamma rays
2.X-rays
3.UV rays
4.Visible light
5.Infrared rays
6.Microwaves
7.Radiofrequency waves
8.Extremely low-frequency radiation

Just how can radiation be a risk factor in getting cancer?

Radiation technology has two varieties ionizing and non-ionizing. That radiation which is confirmed to be ionizing can be a high risk factor. Ionized molecules are volatile and quickly underwent some chemical changes; an ionized radiation is proven to be a human carcinogen (cancer causing agent).

Pollution is the introduction of pollutants into a natural environment that creates instability, harm or discomfort to our ecosystem. Pollution can be chemical substances or energy for example noise, heat or light. People today are wiser for making pollution control programs that they usually term as environmental management programs. Listed here are the following practices:

1.Recycling
2.Reusing
3.Reducing
4.Mitigating
5.Preventing

How can pollution be a risk factor in getting cancer?

The air that we breathe in now is not like our ancestors environmental air before. Ours has dangerous carcinogens which are cancer causing agents which plays a role in acquiring cancer. Types of cancer that may be connected to pollution are the following:

1.Lung cancer
2.Skin cancer
3.Thyroid cancer
4.Multiple myeloma
5.Breast cancer
6.Stomach cancer

Asbestos, as defined by the National Cancer Institute, is a the name given to a group of minerals that come about by natural means in the environment as bundles of fibers which can be separated into thin, durable threads. It’s resistant to heat, fire, and chemicals and isn’t an electricity conductor. These are the basic reasons exactly why the use of asbestos was prevalent during the earlier decades. It was utilized in many industries – from building and construction, fireproofing, sound absorption, shipbuilding, along with other garden products. Having said that, in the modern decades, it’s been considered a human carcinogen, and studies have shown exposure to asbestos can up your risk of lung cancer and mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer.

Many cancer treatment centers and alternative cancer treatment centers are counseling their patients to be conscious of their environmental activities. It can also be an added agent to the majority of cases of lung and skin cancer; there are still a lot of debates about just how many cancers are related to the exposure to substances in the environment. However it is related to each other, we ought to be aware of just how we should take proper care of our environment in order that it will not harm us.

Lighting – Medicine Of The Best Future

As researchers isolate the specific part of the sun’s spectrum that is related to health and well-being, we could eventually create the perfect indoor environment with artificial lighting, until then it’s Vita-Lite. Based on the research of Hollwich and others, the cool-white fluorescent bulb is legally banned in German hospitals and medical facilities. Most offices, stores, hospitals, and schools currently use cool-white fluorescent!

Full Vs. Incomplete Spectrum Lighting

“In 1980, Dr. Fritz Hollwich conducted a study comparing the effects of sitting under strong artificial cool-white (non-full spectrum) illumination versus the effects of sitting under strong artificial illumination that simulates sunlight (full-spectrum). Using changes in the endocrine system to evaluate these effects, he found stress like levels of ACTH an cortisol (the stress hormones) in individuals in sitting under the cool-white tubes. These changes were totally absent in the individuals sitting under the sunlight-simulating tubes.

The significance of Hollowich’s findings becomes clear when the functions of ACTH and cortisol are examined. Both of these metabolic hormones play major roles in the functioning of the entire body and are very much related to stress response. Since their activity increases inhibitors, this may account for the observation that persistent stress stunts bodily growth in children. Hollowich’s findings clarify and substantiate the observations of Ott and others regarding the agitated physical behavior, fatigue, and reduced mental capabilities of children. He concluded that the degree of biological disturbance and the resulting behavioral mal adaptations were directly related to the difference between the spectral composition of the artificial source and that of natural light.

Since cool-white fluorescent lamps are especially deficient in the red and blue-violet ends of the spectrum, this may explain why color therapists have historically used a combination of the colors red and blue-violet as an emotional stabilizer. Hollwich’s work not only confirms the biological importance of full-spectrum lighting, but it also reconfirms the importance of specific colors by evaluating the effects of their omission from our daily lives. Based on the research of Hollwich and others, the cool-white fluorescent bulb is legally banned in German hospitals and medical facilities. It has been found that full-spectrum lighting in the work place creates significantly lower stress on the nervous system than standard cool-white fluorescent lighting and reduces the number of absences due to illness. These findings seem to indicate that full-spectrum lighting may act to boost the immune system in the same way as natural sunlight. Excerpt from “Light Medicine of the Future,” by Jacob Liberman, O.D., Ph.D.

Shedding Light on Those Winter Blues

Does your spirit wanes with the shortening of days? You may be suffering from sunlight withdrawal. The syndrome appears with inevitable regularity. As summer pales into autumn, the victim feels an ominous sense of anxiety and foreboding at the mere thought of approaching winter. As days shorten from November into December, there’s a gradual slowing down, a low of energy, a need for more and more sleep, a longing to lie undisturbed in bed.

It becomes harder to get to work, to accomplish anything when there. Depression and withdrawal follow. As a Brooklyn, New York, woman described it, “Everything seems gloomier and more difficult. There is sadness looming over everything. I can’t concentrate at work and feel like going home afterward to hibernate like a bear.”

Just as routinely, as spring approaches and days stretch out, the sufferer flips into high gear.”Once the warm weather arrives, I feel a burden lifted,” says the Brooklynite. “I feel freer and happier.”

This is more than a dislike of icy slush and raw winds. Psychiatric researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have identified these complaints as a previously unrecognized clinical syndrome. They call its victims “winter depressives.” “It is much more common than we thought,” says Dr. Norman Rosenthal of NIMH. “We expected to get a few replies from our description of this pattern. Instead, we received more than three thousand responses from all over the country. The symptoms described were one after the other very much the same.

“Some of these winter depressives are being successfully treated, not with drugs or psychotherapy but with an element common to all our lives: artificial light. What scientists are learning from the use of light as it affects health and mood has implications for us all. It forces us to rethink the way we light up our lives, especially urban dwellers and workers who spend so much time indoors. Apparently artificial light does much more than enable us to read and work without benefit of sunlight. It affects our bodies.

“It is important to recognize that this is a distinct syndrome with a well-defined cluster of symptoms,” says Dr. Thomas Wehr, an NIMH researcher. “We have measured some very interesting physiological changes specific to this kind of depression.” While typically depressed people have impaired sleep patterns and usually wake up early, winter depressives might sleep nine or 10 hours a night, wake up tired, and take naps. There is a 50% reduction in delta sleep, the deepest, most restful phase of the sleep cycle. Winter depressives gain weight, crave carbohydrates, and their libido pales. Their energy levels drop; monitors on their wrists show that they are less active than in summer.

Such symptoms begin earlier the farther north they live and abate when they visit sunny climates in the winter. Symptoms peak and wane according to the length of days. In New York, for instance, on the shortest day of the year – December 21 – the sun rose at 7:17 a.m. and set at 4:32 p.m., contrasted to 5:25 a.m. and 8:31 p.m. at the height of summer, a six hour difference in light. Such a distinct seasonal pattern implicates the external environment as the culprit, the most obvious being sunlight. Sunlight has already been shown to trigger cycles and seasonal behavior in animals, including reproduction, hibernation, migration, and molting. Animal behavior has been fooled by artificial light. Could it also fool humans? Apparently. In a recent NIMH study, a group of these depressives were treated with amounts of light that simulated that of summer days. Short winter days were stretched by six extra hours of light. The subjects were awakened before sunrise to bask in three hours of light, and dusk was delayed for three more.

Since sunlight is thought to be the missing element, the subjects were flooded with an artificial light that most closely resembles the full broad spectrum of the sun. At 20 times the intensity of normal indoor lighting, the light approximated the sensation of sitting on a shady porch or under a tree in mid-summer. Fluorescent lamps are roughly three times more intense than ordinary light bulbs. A bank of eight 4-watt fluorescent bulbs at eye level lit the participants’ rooms as they read, worked, or moved around. Within days this group responded with measurable mood changes, says Rosenthal. Their symptoms eased and energy levels rose, while a control group with a different threshold of light showed no change in behavior.

“Something in the external environment caused these changes,” says Wehr, “but we are not prepared to say exactly what it is at this point. It is true, though, that waking up these people and exposing them to this light treated their symptoms. Whether it is the break in sleep pattern, the wavelengths or intensity of light, or some other factor we can’t say at this point. The intensity of light used in the study may be well in excess of what is necessary to effect changes, stress the researchers. So they will continue to experiment with varieties of light therapy to determine the crucial element. The subjects themselves feel that sunlight is the missing ingredient.

One said that she felt as if she were in a “lower state of evolution since I function by photosynthesis.” Although these winter depressives showed an abnormal response to light, each of us responds to it in varying degrees. External light travels on a direct pathway from the retina to the part of the hypothalamus believed to be involved in running our biologic clock, the suprachiasmatic nuclei. The path continues to the tiny, cone-shaped pineal gland, which secretes the hormone melatonin. It is thought that melatonin affects the regulation of behavioral changes in animals, but this has not been clearly shown in humans. Sufficiently intense light suppresses the secretion of this chemical, making it a useful marker in determining light’s physical effect on behavior. The secretion of melatonin reflects light’s effect on the hypothalamus, itself highly sensitive to light. This complex part of the brain regulates a multitude of body functions, playing a vital role in reproduction, thirst, hunger, satiation, temperature, emotions, and sleep patterns. Depression is associated with disturbances in the hypothalamus.

“By stimulating the hypothalamus with light we may be correcting these disturbances in this group,” explains Rosenthal. Most artificial light differs from natural sunlight in wavelength (color) and intensity. Sunlight is very intense electromagnetic energy in a continuous spectrum of colors ranging from the short wavelengths of invisible ultraviolet light (UV) through blue, green, yellow, and into the infrared waves. Incandescent bulbs that light through heat light the majority of our homes. They lack the intensity of sunlight and produce light that is heavily infrared. “We don’t like the incandescent lights,” says Wehr. “It’s conceivable for this purpose that they are not the safest. You can get burned from the heat and the infrared radiation.”

Although some fluorescent lamps are described as “broad spectrum,” they do not have the same distribution of colors as sunlight. Widely used fluorescent lights peak in the yellow-green portion of the spectrum, wavelengths to which the eye is most sensitive. That makes them energy efficient but different from natural sunlight, notably in the blue-green spectrum where the sun’s emission or radiant energy is strongest. Additionally, conventional indoor lighting lacks the proper proportion of near-UV radiation of the sun that advocates claim to be vital to health and well being. Just as overexposure can be unhealthy, regulated doses of sun and UV can be therapeutic. UV is currently used to treat psoriasis and, experimentally, genital herpes and some forms of cancer in the early stages of the illness. Full-spectrum artificial light is widely used to cure potentially fatal type of infant jaundice. We need sunlight with its UV rays to metabolize vitamin D, necessary for the absorption of calcium, especially in growing children and the elderly.

Some studies show that working under true full-spectrum lights enhances productivity and reduces fatigue. Even critics concede that many people who are deprived of natural light, such as night or shift workers, suffer undue emotional stress. Whether or just how we should alter our indoor lighting is a question being raised by these studies. As Dr. Richard Wurtman, professor of endocrinology and metabolism at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been saying for years, we should not take artificial lighting for granted. Lined up in the pro-sunlight camp, he has written, “Light is potentially too useful an agency of human health not to be more effectively examined and exploited.” As researchers isolate the specific part of the sun’s spectrum that is related to health and well-being, we could eventually create the perfect indoor environment with artificial lighting, says E. Woody Bickford, environmental engineer with Duro-Test, manufacturers of Vita-Lite. “Until we know,” he points out, “Vita Lite, with its complete range of visible and invisible light, is what we have to work with.”

For ordinary indoor lighting, two to four 40-watt lamps would provide some health benefits, he says. “The benefits seem to be proportional to the amount of light,” he adds. “We may need higher intensity in all our work levels. Perhaps the cutoff point is what you can afford,” Vita-Lite tubes are expensive, and most of our homes are not equipped with fixtures that can accommodate them.

Although many lighting experts are skeptical of the entire concept of light affecting our health, some light manufacturers are beginning to support research in the field, and one trade association has just established a new branch devoted to light and health. As the relationship between light and health becomes publicized, NIHM’s Rosenthal worries that people will try to treat themselves. “With the winter depressives it’s a matter of risks out-weighing benefits. Bright light can damage the retina; UV can be dangerous. But depression can be dangerous for them, too!”

Rather than attempting to cure themselves, people who think that they are winter depressives should contact the NIMH, Bethesda, Maryland 20205, for literature and specific recommendations as they become available