Some­times it’s all right to for­get the sun­screen

Modern Healthcare - - OUTLIERS ASIDES & INSIDES -

Ah! Me­mo­rial Day. Summer. Time to stock up on sun­screen, right? A new study sug­gests maybe you shouldn’t al­ways be so vig­i­lant in slather­ing on sun­screen be­fore ven­tur­ing out­side.

While sun­block is a po­tent weapon in the bat­tle to ward off skin can­cer, there’s a down­side: a risk of vi­ta­min D de­fi­ciency.

Nearly 1 bil­lion peo­ple world­wide may have de­fi­cient or in­suf­fi­cient lev­els of vi­ta­min D due to chronic dis­ease and in­ad­e­quate sun ex­po­sure re­lated to sun­screen use, ac­cord­ing to a clin­i­cal review pub­lished in the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Os­teo­pathic As­so­ci­a­tion. “Peo­ple are spend­ing less time out­side and, when they do go out, they’re typ­i­cally wear­ing sun­screen, which es­sen­tially nul­li­fies the body’s abil­ity to pro­duce vi­ta­min D,” Dr. Kim Pfoten­hauer, as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor at Touro Univer­sity and a re­searcher on the study, said in a news re­lease.

“While we want peo­ple to pro­tect them­selves against skin can­cer, there are healthy, mod­er­ate lev­els of un­pro­tected sun ex­po­sure that can be very help­ful in boost­ing vi­ta­min D,” Pfoten­hauer said.

Vi­ta­min D is ac­tu­ally a hor­mone that the body pro­duces when ex­posed to sun­light and vi­ta­min D re­cep­tors can be found in al­most ev­ery cell in the hu­man body.

A vi­ta­min D de­fi­ciency can re­sult in bone pain, fre­quent frac­tures, un­ex­plained fa­tigue, mus­cle weak­ness and dif­fi­culty thinking clearly. To pre­vent that, all it takes is spend­ing five to 30 min­utes in the sun twice a week sans sun­screen, since sun­screen de­creases vi­ta­min D pro­duc­tion by 99%.

“You don’t need to go sun­bathing at the beach to get the ben­e­fits,” Pfoten­hauer said. “A sim­ple walk with arms and legs ex­posed is enough for most peo­ple.”

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