Benefits of Sun Exposure vs Dangers of Sun Avoidance

Sun Exposure Benefits:

Sun exposure has the potential for harm, yet there are also a number of sun exposure benefits. One must use care, understanding that the consequences of sun avoidance are potentially worse. 

Vitamin D and Longevity

A recent study assessed the estimated impact of increasing vitamin D levels from 54nmol to 110nmol/l and found a massive reduction in mortality levels. The reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and other infections achieved by increasing vitamin D levels resulted in an average life expansion of 2 years. The study concluded “Increasing serum 25(OH)D levels is the most cost-effective way to reduce global mortality rates, as the cost of vitamin D is very low and there are few adverse effects from oral intake and/or frequent moderate UVB irradiance with sufficient body surface area exposed.” [1]

Sun exposure and disease prevention

A review of 16 large international studies exposed a ‘strong inverse correlation’ between vitamin D/ solar UV-B. “ This review consistently found strong inverse correlations with solar UVB for 15 types of cancer: bladder, breast, cervical, colon, endometrial, esophageal, gastric, lung, ovarian, pancreatic, rectal, renal, and vulvar cancer; and Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Weaker evidence exists for nine other types of cancer: brain, gallbladder, laryngeal, oral/pharyngeal, prostate, and thyroid cancer; leukemia; melanoma; and multiple myeloma.”2


Sunlight deficiency linked to depression and cognitive impairment

There is a strong link between sunlight deficiency and reduced cognitive function. One study compared the mental alertness of participants who had been exposed to either natural sunlight or artificial light. The group exposed to natural light performed superiorly compared to the individuals exposed to artificial light.3Another group of researchers assessed the impact of sunlight exposure on cognitive function of depressed individuals and concluded “ The study found an association between decreased sun exposure and increased probability of cognitive impairment”4

Sun exposure linked to fat loss

The institute of dermatological sciences in at Seoul National University found that sunlight exposure has a positive effect on fat metabolism.5

Sunlight exposure and reduced rates of Multiple Sclerosis

Sun exposure reduces the risk of developing multiple sclerosis. Researchers compared the lifestyles, environmental exposures and past medical history of 792 Iranians and found that lack of sunlight exposure was the biggest single risk factor associated with developing MS.6A study compared the sun exposure patterns of Australian mothers that gave birth in May-June to mothers that gave birth in Nov-Dec. They found that the children of mothers that had less sunlight exposure were more likely to develop multiple sclerosis.7