Is Spending Time In The Sun Bad For You?
We’ve been told for ages about how terrible the sun is for you. It’s bad for your skin, for your hair, for your health – or at least, that’s what previous research has testified to. However, more recent research is revealing that sunbathing actually reeps more benefits than harms (1)! It’s been shown to dramatically reduce cancer risk, autoimmune disease, bone diseases, type 1 diabetes, depression, and in appropriate doses, reduce melanoma (1). What’s up with these contrary-to-normal findings?
The Research On Sunbathing
A large and still growing number of scientist have become interestingly concerned about the public campaigns intending to protect humans from the sun, ultimately wondering if these health escapades are doing farm more harm than good (1). An overall lack of sun exposure has in fact caused substantially more diseases than overexposure ever caused, according to authors of a recent meta-analysis (2).
These authors set out to weigh the pros and cons of soaking up sun rays, ultimately reaching the conclusion that excessive sun exposure actually accounts for much less than 0.1% of the total global disease burden (3). According to the research, “A much larger annual disease burden of 3.3 billion disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) worldwide is caused by underexposure to the sun” (1, 3). This massive number includes health issues like bone disease, autoimmune diseases, and many other life-threatening forms of cancer (1).
While many of us have been convinced for years that the sun is our enemy and the ultimate cause of multiple diseases, lack of sun exposure is actually doing much more harm then the original exposure ever did.
Another Reason to Sunbathe
In case the disease-preventative features of sun exposure isn’t enough evidence for you to soak up some rays, here is another reason to encourage you to get outside more: free doses of Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is one of the best known benefits of sunlight (1). Sun rays have the fortunate ability to remarkably boost the body’s vitamin D supply, and the vast majority of vitamin D deficiency cases are entirely due to one’s lack of outdoor experience and sunlight exposure (1). Vitamin D deficiencies often result in an increased risk of death due to cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment in older adults, severe asthma in children, varying forms of depression, and varying cancers (4).
One half of an hour in the summer sun, preferably sunbathing in a swimsuit, can actually cause the release of 50,000 IU vitamin D in individuals with white skin and between 8,000 and 10,000 IU in people with dark skin (1). This means that individuals with dark skin must spend up to 5 times as long in the sun as those with light skin in order to get an adequate supply of vitamin D (1). Certain elements effect these numbers, such as clothing type, nearness to the equator, cloud cover, and more (1).
The sun has proven to have a lot more benefits, such as cancer prevention, tuberculosis treatment, improve sleep habits, diabetes prevention, mood booster, and much more (1). While we’ve been lead to believe that sun exposure will immediately result in skin cancer, the fact of the matter is that the sun is good for our health, so give some good old fashioned sunbathing a try next time you get the chance!