Does Sunlight Cause Cancer or Prevent It?
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Does Sunlight Cause Cancer or Prevent It?

Although there is substantial information regarding the dangers of sun exposure and the risk of skin cancer, some evidence has been showing that small doses of sunlight can prevent other cancers. Vitamin D has numerous health benefits including stimulating a decrease in inflammation and lowering your risk for diabetes, hypertension, and autoimmune disorders.

Although there is substantial information regarding the dangers of sun exposure and the risk of skin cancer, some evidence has been showing that small doses of sunlight can prevent other cancers. Studies have shown that Vitamin D can be responsible for decreasing the risk of developing breast, prostate, colon, stomach, and lung cancer. Vitamin D has numerous health benefits including stimulating a decrease in inflammation and lowering your risk for diabetes, hypertension, and autoimmune disorders.

We get the majority of our Vitamin D from sun exposure. Unfortunately, this can mean that we may be at risk for Vitamin D deficiency in the winter months. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that nearly 90 percent of Caucasian adults showed deficiency during the winter and spring months. These researchers attempted to encourage safe sun exposure in order to boost Vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D is also critical for the absorption of calcium. A lack of this vitamin has led to the emergence of rickets in children who are not able to receive adequate nutrition and who may have little to no sun exposure. Rickets prevention is not the only role of Vitamin D. Receptors for the vitamin are located on every cell of your body, and it is important for maintaining your immune system and levels of immune production. Notably, Vitamin D is one of the strongest inhibitors of cell proliferation.

Attaining Vitamin D through sun exposure is controversial. Skin cancer is a well-known consequence of the damage that sunlight inflicts on cells. According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer occurs in one of out five Americans. There are two types of skin cancer: melanoma and nonmelanoma. Nonmelanoma is curable in 95% of cases and is linked to cumulative sun exposure. Melanoma can be much more deadly with five year survival rates ranging from 28-97 percent. Melanoma has been linked to intermittent, intense exposure, such as one severe sunburn.

In order to safely get your Vitamin D dose from the sun, brief, regular, SPF-free exposures between the hours of 10am-4pm are recommended. Even just exposing your arms or legs for 15 minutes can be sufficient. If you are going to be outside for a prolonged period of time, use sunscreen on your face and any parts of your body which will be directly exposed to sunlight. Physicians do not support the use of tanning beds as a way of getting Vitamin D.

Despite the possible benefits of short-term sun exposure, you may opt to get your D in pill form along with your other daily supplements. Approximately 1000 IU per day is sufficient; consider taking your pill with a meal since Vitamin D is fat soluble and may be better absorbed with some fat in your stomach.

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Comments (1)

Yes, anything in excess is dangerous. We need sunshine but in small amounts.

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