The Sun Could Kill You, but So Will Avoiding It

sunRemember those days when we all used to slather our bodies with baby oil and bake ourselves in the sun, crisping up our skin in pursuit of the perfect deep shade of tan? Yeah, well, now that we know a few things about skin cancer and UV rays and understand that those sun-baking sessions may prove deadly, those days are definitely over -- and they're never coming back. No loss there.

But every once in a while a new study comes out that makes me wonder whether maybe, just maybe, we haven't taken our mortal fear of the sun just a little too far.

This week brings news of just such a study: Danish researchers have found that women who don't get enough vitamin D, which the body takes in from sunshine, fish, and vitamin D-fortified foods like milk and orange juice, are at a higher risk for heart failure and stroke than women with sufficient levels of vitamin D.

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Given that vitamin D also has been found to reduce the risk of diabetes and breast and colon cancer, and that the sun is such a valuable source of vitamin D, am I the only one who secretly sometimes feels like its almost as dangerous to completely avoid the sun than it is to over-expose yourself to it?

Look, I'm no doctor, and I'm sure I'll get pilloried for this by some of you hat and SPF 85 wearers (of which, to be honest, I am also one), but in my heart of hearts, I admit, I sort of think that maybe taking in just a litle bit of sunshine from time to time might not be so bad.

I'm actually not alone in this: Some experts (a few, in fact) agree. For the record, though, while the Mayo Clinic notes that 10 minutes of sun exposure a day is enough to get you by vitamin D-wise, the American Cancer Society recommends not relying on the sun at all for your vitamin D intake, and rather getting it all from your diet.

But even though I am aware that cancer experts recommend against pretty much any direct exposure to the sun, there's a part of me that still craves that 10 minutes of sun on my skin. (I generally have at least the SPF 15 protection on my face, though; it's thoughtfully built right into my daily moisturizer.) To be clear, I'm not talking about lying out trying to get a tan, and I'm certainly not talking about getting so much sun I get a burn, but just a few minutes feeling the morning sun lightly kiss my skin as I walk my kids to school or weed in the garden or sit on my porch contentedly reading the paper? Is that really so wrong?

Do you ever, despite all we've been told about covering up and using sunscreen and avoiding the sun, crave a few rays on your skin?

 

Image via oedipusphinx — — — — theJWDban/Flickr

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