(NaturalHealth365) We’ve all heard the warnings about sunbathing and getting too much sun exposure, but recent scientific research gives us good reason to rethink any fear-based concerns about the sun.
A major study done by Swedish researchers at the Karolinska Institute has found that persons who avoid the sun altogether actually have a higher risk of skin melanomas. They also have double the risk of dying from any health issue – including cancer. The study, which followed almost 30,000 women for 20 years, was recently published in The Journal of Internal Medicine.
These results indicate that there’s much more to the story when it comes to sun exposure. With mortality nearly double in those who avoided the sun compared with those who sunbathed daily, the implications are profound.
Now is the time to question past assumptions about the sun
While sunlight exposure and ultraviolet radiation are often cited as major causes of melanomas on the skin, dermatologist Dr. A. Bernard Ackerman says the link between sun exposure and melanoma have not been definitively proven. He points out that Asians and blacks tend to get melanomas on skin not exposed to sunlight, such as on their palms, the soles of their feet and mucous membranes.
Corporate marketing campaigns geared toward slathering on sunscreen and making the sun the enemy has likely been alarmist and unreasonable. The truth is that some sun exposure is good for health and longevity, and vitamin D benefits are one of the biggest factors.
Are you getting enough sunlight exposure?
A deficit in vitamin D is the likely cause of health problems related to inadequate sun exposure. The sun is the body’s main source of vitamin D, and depriving it of vitamin D benefits can lead to health problems like diabetes, prostate cancer, multiple sclerosis tuberculosis, some aggressive skin cancers, and rickets.
In fact, instances of the disease rickets have actually increased by four times in the past 15 years, corresponding with the increased promotion and use of sunscreen. The Swedish researchers believe guidelines advising people to avoid sun exposure without sunscreen could be causing harm, especially in areas of the world with less sunlight like Northern Europe or the Pacific Northwest area of the United States.
What are the vitamin D benefits of sunbathing?
For starters, vitamin D is linked to better survival rates for women with breast cancer. Plus, vitamin D is crucial for healthy bones and ongoing bone health as we age.
In areas where the sun is just not strong enough, vitamin D supplements can be quite helpful – especially when taken with vitamin K2 (which helps with absorption). However, the additional benefit of a better mood – due to sun exposure – can’t be duplicated by just taking supplements.
For those people unable to get enough natural sunlight – indoor sun lamps can simulate some of these sunlight benefits.
Reactions to this new information has been mixed, with some medical professionals like Yinka Ebo, the senior health information officer of Cancer Research UK, citing previous data that overexposure to UV radiation is the main factor in most skin cancer cases. A balanced approach is likely best, and getting 15 to 20 minutes per day of sun exposure without the use of sunscreen seems to be a reasonable way to reap vitamin D benefits and, quite possibly, extend the quality of your life.