News

Why do sunbathers live longer than those who avoid the sun?

a-SUNBATHING-SAN-DIEGO-640x468Avoiding Sun is as ‘Dangerous as Smoking’

New research looks into the paradox that women who sunbathe are likely to live longer than those who avoid the sun, even though sunbathers are at an increased risk of developing skin cancer.

According to researchers who studied nearly 30,000 Swedish women over 20 years, non-smokers who stayed out of the sun had a life expectancy similar to smokers who soaked up the most rays,

This indicates that avoiding the sun “is a risk factor for death of a similar magnitude as smoking,” write the authors of the article, published March 21 in the Journal of Internal Medicine.

“We found smokers in the highest sun exposure group were at a similar risk as non-smokers avoiding sun exposure, indicating avoidance of sun exposure to be a risk factor of the same magnitude as smoking,” said Dr. Pelle Lindqvist, lead author of the Journal of Internal Medicine study. “Guidelines being too restrictive regarding sun exposure may do more harm than good for health.”

“We know in our population, there are three big lifestyle factors [that endanger health]: smoking, being overweight, and inactivity,” he said. “Now we know there is a fourth — avoiding sun exposure.”

Meanwhile, Dr Malcolm Kendrick (yes, he who graced the speakers’ stage at the Health Fair last year) writes:

‘How about frightening people to stay out of the sun, or slap on factor 50 cream at the first suspicion that a deadly photon may sneak through 10 layers of protective clothing. Not necessarily a good idea, because without vitamin D synthesis in the skin, from exposure to the sun, there is significant danger that we can become vitamin D deficient, which can lead to all sort of other problems.

Here are just two stand-out facts from a major study in the Annals of Epidemiology entitled ‘Vitamin D for Cancer prevention.’

  • Women with higher solar UVB exposure had only half the incidence of breast cancer as those with lower solar exposure
  • Men with higher residential solar exposure had only half the incidence rate of fatal prostate cancer

To put that in simple English. If you spend longer in the sun, you may be far less likely to die of breast and prostate cancer. But what about the increased risk of dying of skin cancer! I have you cry. Well, what of it. Around 2,000 people a year die of malignant melanoma in the UK each year. It increased sun exposure were to double this figure we would have 2000 more cases.

On the other hand, breast cancer kills around 20,00 a year, as does prostate cancer. If we managed to halve the rate of breast and prostate cancer, we would reduce cancer deaths by 20,000 a year. Which is ten times as great as any potential increase in deaths from malignant melanoma.’

As he also wrote in his book ‘Doctoring Data’: I would further add that sun exposure is the best known way of increasing Nitric Oxide  synthesis throughout the body. This protects the endothelium (lining of our arteries) and, as you would expect, lowers blood pressure (the natural way). So, you are far less likely to die from heart disease and stroke’.

We should maybe head out out into the sun to think again – and I speak as a melanoma ‘survivor’.

© Core Health Consultancy Ltd. 2018. Registered in Scotland No. SC472027. Privacy Policy. Terms & Conditions. Cookie Policy. Website by 45b.