Sun exposure has been the topic of debate for a long time. Decades ago it was fashionable to sun bathe and have a golden tan. It was a sign of good health. Now it’s looked at as crazy, irresponsible…But is sun exposure a friend or foe?
What the EPA is Saying about Sun Exposure
The Environmental Protection Agency says that overexposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays is linked to the major health problems like:
- Skin cancer (melanoma and nonmelanoma)
- Premature aging of the skin and other skin problems
- Cataracts and other eye damage
- Immune system suppression
While we can alI agree that too much sun exposure can be harmful, there are definite problems with not getting enough sun exposure. That is why we now have an epidemic of Vitamin D deficiency.
Sun Exposure and Vitamin D
Research has found that the benefits of sun exposure actually outweigh the possible problems. According to Dr. Mercola, “sunlight is your best source of vitamin D, which is produced naturally when the sun’s rays touch your skin. Vitamin D is essential for your health and for the proper functioning of your organs and cells. Lack of vitamin D will leave you vulnerable to a number of chronic diseases, including:
- 16 types of internal cancer
- Heart disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Tuberculosis and,
Sun Exposure May Actually Help Prevent Cancer and Other Illnesses
Approximately 70% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D. Recent evidence strongly suggests that if all Americans got enough sunshine, the number of cancers diagnosed each year would drop by 200,000 and the annual number of cancer deaths would drop by as much as 63,000. Pretty amazing, isn’t it?
Dr. Mercola believes that the advice to never leave your house without sunscreen has had a damaging effect on our health. “Wearing sunscreen effectively blocks your body’s production of vitamin D, which happens naturally when your skin is exposed to sunlight. In fact, sunscreens reduce vitamin D production by as much as 97.5 to 99.9 percent.”
Health Benefits of Moderate Sun Exposure
Richard Weller, Senior Lecturer in Dermatology, and colleagues at the University of Edinburgh in the UK, say the “effect is such that overall, sun exposure could improve health and even prolong life, because the benefits of reducing blood pressure, cutting heart attacks and strokes, far outweigh the risk of getting skin cancer.”
Some health benefits of sun exposure include:
- Reduce blood pressure and generally improve cardiovascular health
- Improve mood
So, just like with everything else, moderation is key. It appears that 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure on a daily basis is all you need to benefit from the vast healing and therapeutic powers of sun exposure.
Tomorrow, I will go into sunscreen and cover topics like what ingredients, SPF… to look for and avoid. Read: Sun Exposure & Sunscreen: Friend of Foe? Part 2.
+ Dr. Mercola Four Out of Five Sunscreens May Be Hazardous to Your Health
+ Medical News Today Sun Exposure Benefits May Outweigh Risks Say Scientists