Stepping outside in the morning sun for just 30 seconds every day could cut your risk of getting cancer, an NHS doctor has controversially claimed.
Dr Mohammad Muneeb Khan, an oncologist based at Caste Hill Hospital, Yorkshire, said it might be the ‘simplest, cheapest, most effective and by far the most natural way’ to prevent the disease.
Unpublished research suggests it cuts the chances of developing any type of cancer from around one in two to one 10, he claimed.
However, charities have today slammed his claims.
Cancer Research UK warned there is no evidence that exposure to near-infrared light — as it is technically dubbed — ‘acts as a preventative measure to reduce the risk of cancer’ whatsoever.
The only proven ways to cut your risk of cancer include giving up smoking, staying slim, drinking less alcohol and staying safe in the sun.
Dr Mohammad Muneeb Khan, an oncologist at Caste Hill Hospital, Yorkshire, said early light exposure could be the ‘simplest, cheapest, most effective and by far the most natural way’ to prevent the disease
WHAT IS MELATONIN?
Melatonin is a hormone which controls how asleep or awake people feel.
The hormone is produced in the pineal gland in the brain and its release into the body is controlled by light.
During the day, when the eye absorbs light, melatonin levels in the body are low and, as a result, we feel awake.
But when darkness settles and the amount of light being absorbed by the eye reduces (although this is disrupted in modern societies because of artificial light), more melatonin circulates round the body.
Melatonin prepares the body for sleep by slowing the heart rate, reducing blood pressure, and changing how heat is stored in the body – the body’s core temperature drops while the outside of the body and the limbs become warmer.
The hormone also makes people feel sleepy.
Melatonin supplements can be taken to aid sleep in people who have problems with it, as well as for certain medical conditions such as tinnitus or Alzheimer’s disease.
Sources: Medical News Today and Journal of Applied Physics
Referring to his theory, Dr Khan, also the founder of the charity Killing Cancer Kindly, said: ‘It really couldn’t be easier.
‘Stepping outside every morning to catch the best NIR light really could be the simplest, cheapest, most effective and by far the most natural way to protect against the Big C for any cancer-free adult anywhere in the world.’
He said that if further research bears out, ‘we should all make time every morning to bathe in the healing light of the sun’.
Dr Khan’s heavily-disputed theory is based on a study out of the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences in 2016.
It found mitochondria — described as the powerhouses of cells — produce melatonin when exposed to sunlight.
Before that discovery, it was thought that the ‘sleep hormone’, as it is nicknamed, was solely made in the brain at night.
Melatonin is thought to have antioxidant properties, linked to preventing and slowing the spread of cancer.
Further studies by Killing Cancer Kindly to establish the link between mitochondria and NIR light are set to take place ‘as soon as possible’, he said.
Dr Khan did not say where his claims around 30 seconds worth of sun being enough to have any benefit or NIR reducing cancer risk were sourced from, however.
And he said on dull days people should extend their time outside in the morning for up to 30 minutes.
This ‘detoxifies each and every cell in the body from the toxins that can damage your health and lead to cancer’, Dr Khan said on his YouTube channel.
Dr Khan told South West News Service: ‘The recent discovery in the US that the human body produces melatonin through sunlight exposure has completely transformed our understanding of this hormone, and its potential health benefits.
‘This research provides the basis of a scientific theory as to why some countries, most obviously in parts of Asia, the Middle and Far East, have significantly lower risk of developing cancer than we do in the UK and other Western countries.
‘It could well be because their inhabitants tend to rise very early and get exposed to morning sunlight, as part of their culture — and to escape the hottest part of the day — whereas Britons and other Western nations, as a general rule, do not.
‘If this theory can be scientifically proven, then early morning sunlight exposure will come to be recognised as the most powerful — and easily the cheapest and simplest — ultimate detox plan in history.
‘While we are waiting for those studies to commence, I believe the evidence thus far points to the benefits of NIR light and that it is in everyone’s best interests to catch as little as 30 seconds of the morning sun as early as they possibly can.’
Dr Khan said NIR light leads to the highest production of melatonin in the morning — but did not provide evidence showing it was most effective at this time.
Melatonin production increases at night time and peaks between 2am and 4am.
However, independent experts quashed the claims.
Cancer Research UK’s senior health information manager Fiona Osgun said that no studies in existence have suggested NIR does anything to prevent cancer.
She told MailOnline: ‘While NIR light is being used in some specific experimental cancer treatments, there is no evidence that it acts as a preventative measure to reduce the risk of cancer.
‘There are proven ways to reduce your risk of cancer, such as not smoking, keeping a healthy weight, cutting down on alcohol and staying safe in the sun.’