A group of scientists recently confirmed that Europe is suffering a pandemic of vitamin D deficiency; some weeks ago a study carried out in Sweden shed light on the negative effects of sun avoidance. Will this kind of results put an end to the “demonization of sunlight”?
Sunlight is life. It is commonly known that human beings, animals and plants need sunlight to live. Over the last years we have witnessed an unbalanced negative reporting on the effects of sunlight. People were warned not to go out in the sun without sunscreen, sun exposure was seen as dangerous and the number of skin cancer cases was apparently rising. Sunbeds were called “cancer machines” and were classified as carcinogenic “per se” by the World Health Organization (WHO) without any mentioning of possible positive effects of UV exposure at all.
Today a shift towards a more balanced view on sunlight is to be seen. More and more researchers are now also looking at the benefits of sunlight and hence also the importance of vitamin D for our body. Vitamin D is the so-called “sunshine vitamin” that is needed for bone health, muscles, the prevention of multiple sclerosis and several types of internal cancers as well as type 1 diabetes mellitus. Moreover vitamin D can help increase your mood and make you feel better.
“I am happy to see these positive developments in the media reporting on sunlight and vitamin D. We have been promoting moderate sun exposure to artificial and natural sunlight for years and were aware of the positive effects. That is why we are now glad to see a more balanced reporting”, says ESA Chairperson Christina Lorenz.
 Cashman, K. et al. (2016). Vitamin D deficiency in Europe: pandemic?, The Americal Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2016 103: 1033-1044.
 Lindqvist PG, Epstein E, Nielsen K, Landin-Olsson M, Ingvar C, Olsson H (Karolinska University Hospital, Lund University, Lund, Sweden). Avoidance of sun exposure as a risk factor for major causes of death: a competing risk analysis of the Melanoma in Southern Sweden cohort. J Intern Med 2016; doi: 10.1111/joim.12496.