Time and over again, dermatologists have warned about increased exposure to sun owing to risk of skin cancer. It has now been found that Vitamin D, produced by the skin following exposure to sun could actually decrease the risk of cancer. With increase in the number of studies highlighting the cancer-preventive properties of Vitamin D, there is now a need for a well-established guideline regarding sun exposure.
Vitamin D levels in the body can be increased by a mere 10-minute exposure of the hands and face to sunlight, without sunscreen. Surprisingly, this effect was even found during sunny days in winter. Approximately 400 IU of Vitamin D (recommended daily intake of the vitamin in United States and Canada) is produced during summer, following 20 minutes of exposure to the sun.
Following this interesting finding, the researchers highlight the increased skin cancer rates, as a consequence of increased sunscreen use. There is also a lot of confusion about the ideal way to get the required levels of the vitamin. In an attempt to seek a solution to this dilemma, a meeting would be held at Toronto and would be attended by health professionals from around the world.
We now make reduced levels of the vitamin than we used to. There is not enough of the vitamin in foods, leading to lowered levels of the vitamin in the body. Cells are not able to function effectively as they are starved of the vitamin. It is hypothesized that this reduced vitamin D levels could lead to unfavorable cellular changes and an increased risk of cancer. Vitamin D supplementation, more specifically the D3 form, is recommended during winter.
In spite of the growing evidence regarding the health benefits of Vitamin D, dermatologists are reluctant to urge people to expose themselves to sun. Looks like telling people that it is ok to spend a little time out in the sun without getting sun burnt is more complicated than what is foreseen at the moment.
'There's been mounting scientific evidence to suggest that being in the sun unprotected -- that is, not using sunscreen -- may reduce your risk of some big cancers, like breast, prostate, colorectal and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. But we know, based on a solid body of evidence, that exposure to ultraviolet radiation can increase your risk of skin cancer, premature aging and cataracts. It's not an easy situation to deal with, and what we don't want people to do is to end up outside unprotected -- to trade cancers for cancers,' said Heather Logan, a member of the Canadian Cancer Society.