Weighing the Dangers and Benefits of the Sun

July 27, 2015

The Washington Post published this article on Friday encouraging people to get out in the sun and go easy on the sunscreen because we need more Vitamin D. While Vitamin D is an essential vitamin in bone health and helping prevent chronic diseases, we fear this article does not strike the right balance between sun exposure and Vitamin D. Everyone needs to know and understand the risks of too much sun exposure as skin cancer rates grow every year.

Research on the benefits of Vitamin D indicates that a brief exposure of your face, arms and hands to the sun is sufficient. 15 minutes of exposure per day, three times a week is all that is necessary. Do not make the critical mistake of thinking that laying out on the beach all day with limited or no sunscreen is beneficial to your health- it isn’t, and you could do serious harm to yourself. You can get Vitamin D from foods like salmon, tuna, milk, eggs and mushrooms. Studies show that by filling your diet with these vitamin-rich foods and exposing your skin in small doses to the sun, you will receive sufficient amounts of Vitamin D.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer- nearly two million people are diagnosed annually. About 73,870 people will be diagnosed with the most dangerous and deadly form of skin cancer, melanoma, this year alone. It is important you continue protecting yourself from the sun by using a broad spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30 and remember to reapply it every two hours. A thin layer is fine, but it is critical that you apply and re-apply sunscreen to protect yourself from skin cancer. Professor Holick states in his piece, that “An estimated 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetimes. This is not insignificant.” We believe that 20% of Americans hearing those horrible words, “you have cancer” is very significant. Don’t be one of them.

To learn more about sun exposure and skin cancer, visit preventcancer.org.

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