Joe Shlabotnick via Flickr

Joe Shlabotnick via Flickr

The issue of sunshine versus sunscreen is like being between a rock and a hard place.

You have all heard of how exposure to sun is bad for you. You’ve been told that sun exposure will kill you and that sun exposure causes skin cancer.

It’s only logically to see  sunscreen as the savior from a painful, untimely death from skin cancer.

Many people took heed to the warning and used up gobs of sunscreen. SPF 100 anyone? The messaging worked so well that we are all now battling with vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D helps us absorb calcium from the food we eat and calcium is what the bone is made up of. Lack of vitamin D in turn causes the bones to be weak and soft- you want a sturdy skeleton, trust me.

Low vitamin D has also been implicated in muscle pain- fibromyalgia, memory problems and even heart disease.

The best source of vitamin D is early morning sunshine and we are getting very little of that these days since we have made sun the enemy.

So come with me on a fact-finding expedition.

The common skin cancer types; squamous cell and basal cell cancers almost NEVER kill (never say never, so I said “almost never”).  Both sub-types of cancer  have a direct correlation with intense and prolonged sun exposure.

The big bad wolf of skin cancer; Malignant Melanoma seems to be cut from a different piece of cloth. Melanoma has a penchant for showing up in places that receive very little sun exposure like the bottom of the feet for instance. There is more to melanoma than sun exposure.

The take home here:

1. Use sunscreen to prevent sunburns and to reduce your chances of getting a squamous cell or basal cell cancer.  Don’t entertain the delusion that sunscreen  by itself will prevent malignant melanoma.

2. Try to get some EARLY MORNING sunshine when you can. Avoid the energy draining, smothering mid-day sun.

That way you will get your vitamin D naturally and have one less supplement to use.



About the author

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Dr. Bola

Family physician. Works for the "man" by day, wife & mom 24/7.
Loves the work of translating "medicalese" to plain english.


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