A recent study “Sun Exposure- Hazards and Benefits” by Pelle G. Lindqvist, Elisabeth Epstein and Mona Landin-Olsson provides an evidence-based response and a balanced update on advantages and risks of sun exposure, where it is shown that an overexposure of sunlight can be dangerous but a regulated sunlight exposure has multiple benefits for your overall health and prevents different diseases.
The research is based on sun exposure habits of nearly 30.000 Swedish women which generally have a fairer skin and thus a lower tolerance to sunlight exposure. Human skin can be exposed to Ultraviolet radiation (UV) in basically two ways: natural sunlight and artificial sunlight such as sunbeds. Lindqvist et al. realized in their research that the women who used sunbeds increased the risk of melanoma by 20%, but the general mortality risk is reduced by 23%. Importantly, it should be noted that these numbers were influenced by different variables such as duration and intensity of UV exposure as well as the age of participants.
This underlines the general consensus that overexposure to UV should be avoided at all cost, yet a too restrictive sun exposure advice might do more harm than good by increasing the risk of death from diseases such as myocardial infarction and stroke. Therefore, regular but moderate UV exposure could be optimal for the overall health, however, UV intensity level in the country in question must be taken into consideration when determining what exactly those moderate levels of UV exposure are.
It is well known that sun exposure is crucial for obtaining a healthy level of vitamin D but in addition to that, sun exposure has shown to also positively effect systemic inflammation, immunomodulation, melatonin system, nitric oxide and calcium transport. Vitamin D deficiency might only be a marker for an unhealthy lifestyle that precedes the diagnosis of diabetes and other diseases. Moreover, the study goes as far as to conclude that insufficient sun exposure poses a risk factor for death in the same magnitude as smoking.
To conclude, the Lindqvist et al. study finds that there is an established relationship between sun exposure and an increased risk of skin cancer depending on numerous factors however, there are major positive effects of sunlight exposure that not only reduce the risk of various diseases but also decrease all-cause mortality by a significant amount.
Media contact: Jonas Noswitz
PELLE G. LINDQVIST, ELISABETH EPSTEIN, MONA LANDIN-OLSSON
Anticancer Research Apr 2022, 42 (4) 1671-1677; DOI: 10.21873/anticanres.15644