Sunscreen, Cancer, Sunbathing, and You

Updated 1/1/2019

There’s another article making the rounds that seems really plausible at first. It talks about researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden performing a large, long-running, and peer-reviewed study of the impact of sunbathing in one group compared to a group that received no substantial sun exposure. As you may know, Sweden has a low UV index meaning that the sun does not have the same impact there as it would at, say, the equator. The study also concerned itself with Caucasian women. The findings showed that the group with no sun exposure had a higher mortality rate than the group with some sun exposure.. by a pretty huge margin.

Does this mean that you should bake yourself in the sun constantly?NO!

NaturalNews-esque websites were quick to demonize sunscreen as being toxic or state that the sun actually reduces your risk of cancer.

First of all, no. Sunscreen is pretty great, actually. You know, the whole “not dying of skin cancer” thing, right?

Let’s look at how the sun can reduce your risk of cancer and how exactly this study doesn’t mean what NaturalNews would have you believe.

It is entirely true that sun exposure produces Vitamin D. That’s why people that live in extreme northern and southern areas have lighter skin pigmentation. Darker skin blocks UV absorption. Lighter skin permits it. In a place like Sweden, it is an evolutionary advantage to have lighter skin as that ensures you’re producing enough Vitamin D. In an area along the equator, it’s an evolutionary advantage to have darker skin. At the equator, you’re getting more UV rays and the risk of skin cancer is higher than the risk of Vitamin D deficiency.

…Golly, it’s like thousands of years of racism are based off of a mildly interesting evolutionary adaptation for living in one area versus another…

Anyway! The Swedish study was looking at light-skinned women that were either getting just enough or not enough sun exposure. Surprise! People at a higher risk of suffering from Vitamin D deficiency had a higher mortality rate when placed in a situation where they were likely to suffer Vitamin D deficiency.

It is no surprise at all that they found that light skinned Caucasian women living in an area with a very low UV-index had benefit to ‘some’ sun exposure as compared to ‘no’ sun exposure. Jumping to the conclusion that sunbathing is good for you in all situations is not logical. Believing that sunscreen is killing you is kind of insane. It is instead correct to believe that limited sun exposure is good if you do not normally get it as part of your daily routine if you are in an area at high risk of insufficient UV exposure to produce the minimum necessary amount of Vitamin D.

This was a very long-winded way to tell you to wear your sunscreen.