Absolutely! The question should be, “Do we really need sunscreen?” I started my position on this, and my title for this Blog, long before Covid was ever a common discussion. Everywhere you looked you were told “The sun is bad! Always wear sunscreen!” Then I saw one of the best lay articles I’d read, which mirrored my comments about the sun, in Reader’s Digest’s Jul
y/August 2020 edition, which was written by Rowan Jacobsen from Outsideonline.com.
Mr. Jacobsen interviewed a researcher from the University of Edinburgh named Richard Weller, MD. Dr. Weller’s findings and opinions matched what I have been saying for decades. Sun is good for you! As we move away from the equator high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and overall mortality rise. Vitamin D and nitric oxide are produced by the body when in the sun. These dilate blood vessels, reducing blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases and their death rates. Skin cancer deaths are rare in comparison to other diseases. Melanoma, the deadly type of skin cancer, accounts for only 1-3% of cancer deaths and the people who get melanoma tend to be indoor workers, not the outdoor workers that sunscreen producers suggest. There’s evidence that long term sun exposure equates with less melanoma.
Dr. Weller mentions research from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute by Dr. Pelle Lindqvist. Dr. Lindqvist found lower rates of type 2 diabetes with sun enthusiasts, and though melanoma was more common with them, they were 8 times less likely to die from it. He also looked at overall mortality rates. Those avoiding the sun were twice as likely to die as sunbathers. Dr. Lindqvist’s team published findings in the Journal of Internal Medicine that sun exposure avoidance is a risk factor similar to smoking in terms of life expectancy.
Sun exposure chemicals produced in the body also reduce many other diseases and cancers. In other words, the benefits far outweigh the risks. This is especially true with people of color. Darker pigmentation decreases the production of these beneficial chemicals and the cosmetic industry marketing to these individuals to use sunscreen are bordering on false advertising. When enjoying the sun, spend the first 15-30 minutes without sunscreen and only apply it if you will be out for extended periods. So it doesn’t take much time outdoors to reap the benefits of sun exposure. The farther from the equator and the darker your skin, the more exposure you will need.
So stop worrying and get outside and enjoy the outdoors. Sun, fresh air, and interaction with nature is good for you!
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