I don’t know about you but I love the warm sunny days of summer. It’s great to be outdoors and enjoy the weather. But how much sun is too much? The rising incidence of skin cancer has caused many to fear the sun and avoid it. On the other hand, exposure to sunlight increases our levels of Vitamin D, which has been shown to reduce cancer, improve mood, strengthen our bones, protect against diabetes and help with weight loss.
Now there’s an even stronger reason to enjoy that sunshine. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh have found that sunlight increases the production of nitric oxide, a compound that lowers blood pressure. Heart disease and stroke linked to increased blood pressure account for 80 times more deaths than skin cancer.
Dr. Richard Weller, a senior lecturer in dermatology at Edinburgh University, stated: “We suspect that the benefits to heart health of sunlight will outweigh the risk of skin cancer. We now plan to look at the relative risks of heart disease and skin cancer in people who have received different amounts of sun exposure. If this confirms that sunlight reduces the death rate from all causes, we will need to reconsider our advice on sun exposure.”
Personally I recommend a balanced approach. Try to get at least 20 minutes of direct sun exposure during the day. However, avoid over-exposure, especially when the sun is at its highest. Cover up and use a sunscreen during the peak sun hours if you plan to be out for an extended period. Avoid getting burned as this skin damage has been most linked to the increase in skin cancer.
Take time this summer to enjoy the great outdoors. Fresh air, nature and sunshine can go a long ways to improving your health.