THE sun is a wonderful giver of health, and has therefore been worshipped by men everywhere since the earliest ages. The sun god plays a great part in the myths of all tribes and nations. However, the sun may kill as well as cure. Apollo, the greek sun god, killed with his arrows, with the rays of the sun, those whom he wished to destroy.
In a rather sunless clime like that of Great Britain where the sun is a Somewhat rare visitor, warmth and sunshine are greeted with the delight. In hot countries, which are more familiar with the sun, its effect is rightly dreaded. In southern Italy, France, Spain, in the semitropics and tropics the sun is feared, and people coming from these countries are amazed at the way in which English men and women expose themselves for hours to the powerful rays of the sun at its hottest.
These powerful rays are dangerous. Consumptives are greatly benefited by sunlight and open air, but every doctor and attendant employed at the open-air sanatoria is aware that reckless exposure to the powerful sun- rays will terribly aggravate the disease. Dr. Rollier and other pioneers of the open-air treatment for consumptives expose their patients to the sun at the beginning only when the sun is low and gives out scarcely any heat. Moreover, the patients whole body is not exposed to the sun, but only feet for a short time. Gradually further portions of the body are exposed to the sun and for a longer period and thus patients in excess upon the unprepared body, is deadly.
The average individual has no fear of the sun. When told that exposure to the sun may be dangerous, he is apt to reply that he is not afraid of getting sunstroke. Sunstroke is very rare. Before collapse through the so-called stroke takes place, the sufferer becomes acutely uncomfortable and nervous, and his instinct induces him to seek coolness in the shade, and to bring down his temperature by fanning.
While sunstroke or heat stroke causing collapse, because the heat of the body is greater then can be borne, is infrequent, damage done by overexposure to the sun is extremely frequent. I have met numerous people whole have told me that years ago, while sun- bathing, a severe skin rash developed and that ever since they had been suffering from a very intractable skin disease which no specialist could cure. They had been damaged for life. Other people have been given chronic headaches, largely due to the nervous system being damaged by the sun, while again other cases show chronic nerve symptoms.
These and other effects due to the powerful exposure to the sun may appear unimportant. Unfortunately from these unimportant beginnings extremely serious diseases may spring. Every cancer student is aware that there are forms of cancer which are caused by burning.
There is cancer of the stomach which frequently follows continued talking of over-hot food and especially drink, there is cancer of the other abdomen found in the Himalayas where the natives carry on the bare skin of their abdomen clay basins filled with glowing charcoal embers to keep themselves warm. There is, furthermore, cancer of the fingers and hands found in X-ray and radium workers who have injudiciously exposed their hands to the rays which they handle.
It should be widely known every experienced doctor or consultant has seen cases of sun cancer, which is frequent found among men who work in the open in the powerful sun. It is particularly frequently seen in farmers, agricultural labourers, seamen, and building workers. As a rule it occurs it the unshaded part of the face from the level of the eye and ear down to the neck.
Cancer is a disease of very slow development, and it may well happen that relatively small damage done by exposure to the over- strong sun to-day may turn into cancer ten or more years later. Radiologists who have been burned frequently notice an outbreak of ray cancer ten or twenty years after exposure.
We are recommended moderation in all things. The immoderate in take of alcohol, tea, milk, bred, sugar, salt, etc., is injurious. Even over-consumption of water may injure the kidneys and the body as a whole. Many of the most valuable tonics contained in our food become deadly poisons when taken in excess.
The most powerful poisons, such as Strychnine and Arsenic, are invaluable tonics in small doses. The same applies to the sun. Wisely used, the sun is a wonderful force producing health and strength. Used recklessly, Apollos arrows kill.