Spring is in bloom, the birds are singing and we’re all looking forward to longer, sunnier days. The commute to work doesn’t feel quite so bad, it’s warmer, and most of us are making the most of the outdoors.
You may be in the garden, on the golf course, out on the water or even just driving with the hood down. Wherever you are, you’re going to feel the sunshine and hopefully some of its benefits.
But if your skin gets tanned, remember that this is a sign that it’s been damaged by the sunshine. And that can mean increased ageing of the skin and an increased risk of skin cancers. So perhaps a tan isn’t so healthy after all.
It’s true that there are some health benefits from sunshine: it’s needed to make Vitamin D in the skin. We know that Vitamin D is essential to maintain strong bones, and that deficiency can lead to conditions like rickets and osteoporosis.
There are even claims that taking vitamin D supplements may decrease the risk of developing prostate cancer, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and heart disease but none of these are proven conclusively and a lot more research is needed. Remember is that if your diet isn’t rich in dairy or oily fish, you can always take a Vitamin D3 supplement (the most active form) if you’re out of the sun. There may be a minimum amount of sun exposure needed to synthesise vitamin D in the absence of supplements, but the studies have not yet been done.
The most common cancer in the UK is skin cancer, and it’s on the increase. If you take a look at the British Association of Dermatologists’ website you’ll read some startling facts:
- More than a hundred thousand cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the UK each year, and more than ten thousand of those are melanoma, the most dangerous form.
- The incidence of melanoma is increasing faster than any other cancer, especially in men (although women are still more commonly affected).
- Over 2,300 people in the UK died from skin cancer in 2010.
- Up to four out of five cases of skin cancer may be preventable by being careful in the sun
For more information visit www.bad.org.uk