Sun Exposure 101: Skin Damage Prevention

It has been said that being exposed to the sun is dangerous and we all probably know that, however, we have found many benefits we receive from taking a short bath of direct sun. 

Many doctors and scientists are afraid that the emphasis on preventing skin cancers tends to obscure the much larger mortality risk posed by other kinds of cancers like breast, colon, and lungs. Many studies are stating that cancer-related deaths are concentrated toward the lower latitudes and those that are related to lower levels of ambient UVR (Ultraviolet radiation). This means that being under the sun for a while could help us to prevent many diseases. 

Here, some good data we all should know:

Vitamin D can be calculated with a simple blood test that at your routine checkup and it is measured in nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) this is for knowing the percent of vitamin D in the blood and the recommended is 55–60 ng/mL.

According to some research, being exposed to the sun may reduce the risk of many kinds of cancer by as much as 30-50%. Therefore, the action of exposure to the sun could reduce the incidence of cancer in North America and Europe, even more than not smoking.

But how to know how enough is enough?  

There are some facts influence how we can calculate our own time to sun exposure:

- The darker the color of our skin, the less vitamin D we produce.

- The farther away we live from the equator, the less vitamin D we produce.

- The fewer light hours are in the day in the place we live, the less vitamin D we produce.

It is needed only a few minutes outdoors when the sun is at its highest in the sky with 40% of the skin area exposed, so it is fine to have arms and legs exposed. The amount of sun exposure required to produce an accurate level of vitamin D varies on the time of the year, time of day, latitude, and of course, depending on the color of the skin (3–15 minutes for light skins and 15–30 minutes for darker skins). It could be fine doing it for 2 to 3 times a week between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. from May through October. Here there are some recommended exposure times according to the type of skin.

Kooper Chart

We could think that this benefit is due to vitamin D, however, according to studies, they’ve found the health progress is not directly related to vitamin D, health outcomes depending on serum 25(OH)D levels we only get from the sun. This means vitamin D supplementation is not an effective substitute for adequate sun exposure.

Is good to know that the precursor of serotonin is affected and increased by sunlight. Moderately high levels of serotonin also result in more positive moods and calm yet focused mental outlook.

It is important to keep in mind there is a danger of sunburn at every age. However, just making a regular blood test for checking these levels is good (mostly after the summer season; because the vitamin D level in the blood is at its highest level). 

Insufficient exposure to the sun is a real public health issue that demands from all we to make a change and get enough sun exposure. Now that some of us are probably still locked down because of the pandemic, we should consider taking the time to get out and receive sunlight and think about all the benefits the sun can give us, and that not being exposed to it, could affect our physical and mental health.

Remember to always protect your eyes from direct UV light. Discover our new sunglasses collection.

 

REF: Garland CF, Kim JJ, Mohr SB, Gorham ED, Grant WB, Giovannucci EL, Baggerly L, Hofflich H, Ramsdell JW, Zeng K, et al. Meta-Analysis of all-cause mortality according to serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D. Am J Pub Health 2014; 104:e43-50; http://dx.doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2014.302034