Is Sunshine Good or Bad for our Health?
New science is challenging the idea that we should be fearful of sun exposure. Below are links to recent studies, keys to the health benefits of sunshine, and tips on how to expose yourself to the sun safely to get them.
Results of a 20 year follow up study published in 2014 revealed that Avoidance of sun exposure is a risk factor for all-cause mortality. Participants in the study who avoided the sun were twice as likely to die from any cause than those who had the most sun exposure.
In an article published in the June 2015 issue of New Scientist titled Shunning the sun may be killing you in more ways than you think, dermatologist Richard Weller writes that it’s time to rethink our exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet rays in relation to their health benefits.
The review The risks and benefits of sun exposure 2016 examines studies that have shown a wide range health benefits from sun/UV exposure. These benefits include reduced risk of various types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer disease/dementia, myopia and macular degeneration, diabetes and multiple sclerosis. The message of sun avoidance must be changed to acceptance of non-burning sun exposure sufficient to achieve blood levels of 75 nmol/L or higher, and the general benefits of UV exposure beyond those of vitamin D.
SUNLIGHT PRODUCES VITAMIN D IN OUR SKIN
Having high blood levels of vitamin D reduces your risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer, dementia & Alzheimer's disease, autoimmune disease, high blood pressure, strokes & heart attacks, and diabetes. It makes you less likely to die prematurely of any cause than people with low levels.
SUNLIGHT PRODUCES NITRIC OXIDE IN OUR SKIN
Nitric oxide causes our blood vessels to dilate. The result is lowered blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
PROTECT YOUR SKIN
Prevent sunburns by gradually increasing exposure. As soon as your skin begins to turn pink, cover up with clothes and a hat and seek shade.
If you must be in the sun during peak UV times (10am to 2pm), choose a sunscreen from the Environmental Working Group’s Safe Sunscreen Guide. Try a sun block that provides a physical rather than chemical barrier, like zinc oxide.
HEAL YOUR SKIN
If you do get a sunburn, cool your skin down immediately with a cool shower, bath, or compress. If it’s a mild burn (your skin is pink to red, and dry), apply pure aloe vera gel, calendula ointment or vitamin E oil. Seek medical treatment for any 2nd or 3rd degree sunburn that presents with blistering, raw skin, fever, chills or nausea.
Eat lots of brightly coloured fruits and veggies, and consider supplementing with vitamins A, C, E & zinc as sources of antioxidants that can protect against free radical damage and help heal your skin. Try essential fatty acids from evening primrose oil & flaxseed oil to repair cells and speed healing. Consult with a licensed Naturopathic Doctor to find a protocol that's right for you.
The information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. It is not intended to replace any recommendations or relationship with your physician. Please review linked references for scientific support of any claims made.