Benefits of the sun WITHOUT sunscreenSpain News | Benefits of the sun WITHOUT sunscreen

Tue 9 April 2024

Spain News | Benefits of the sun WITHOUT sunscreen

How to balance the risk of skin cancer with optimal Vitamin D production.

Here in the offices of Jacaranda Spain in the beautiful Marina Alta, Spring has most definitely sprung. As we enter the month of April, the days are longer and warmer and people, out and about, are wearing less clothes. For many of those visiting on holiday, one of the main objectives is to go back home with a sun kissed and healthy glow.

Vacaciones, Playa, Relajarse, Viaje, Sol

Most of us, lucky enough to live here in the "Jalon Valley", gave up the pursuit of a sun tan after the first year of relocating. Firstly, it is just more pleasant sitting in the shade, especially when the temperature heads towards 30 or 40 degrees. Secondly, and I'm sure we all fall into this category, we don't want to increase our chances of developing skin cancer.

Cancers of the skin are caused by the development of abnormal cells that can spread on the skin and then to other parts of the body. The three most prevalent forms are;

1. Basal cell carcinoma  - Occurs in the deeper part of the outer layer of skin and spreads slowly.

2. Squamous cell - Occurs on the surface of the skin and likely to spread if not treated.

3. Melanoma -  The most serious type of skin cancer which has the ability to spread quickly.

The vast majority of skin cancers are caused by UltraViolet radiation from the sun.

Research into all forms of skin cancer is ongoing, but there can be no doubt that over exposure to UV rays from the sun is dangerous. When the UV index (which gives you the burning ability of the sun) on your weather app, is 3 or more, you need to cover up, either with shade, clothes or high SPF (Sun Protection Factor) sunscreen. 

Bloqueador Solar, Cuidado De La Piel

However, a 2014 study by the Journal of Internal Medicine published the results of a study of 29,000 women in Sweden. It concluded that a lack of exposure to the sun causes more deaths than sun exposure itself. Sun exposure is vital for the production of vitamin D. The benefits of having healthy levels of this life supporting vitamin are; Reduced blood pressure therefore reduced risk of heart attack and stroke, better quality of sleep, heart and brain health and general sense of well being.

Insufficient exposure to the sun can contribute to the causes of many cancers, cardio vascular disease, metabolic syndrome, types 1 and 2 diabetes, poor mental health and depression, arthritis, psoriasis... and the list goes on.

Recent studies also conclude that your skin type is an important factor. Darker skin tones need more exposure for the benefits and it takes more over exposure to cause the damage that can result in cancer.

So, when do the benefits of vitamin D outweigh the risks of skin cancer?

The experts are now telling us that we need to expose our skin to short bursts of sunlight EVERY day - WITHOUT sunscreen. Now, before you set off for a day at the beach without your factor 50, we need to get this into context. How much is enough?

For fair skin tones - 10-15 minutes is enough to produce enough vitamin D to avoid a deficiency.

For darker skin tones - 25-30 minutes is enough.

So, the advice is clear. Enjoy a late morning coffee in the sun, with your skin as nature intended, but do cover up after this. The best rule of thumb is - DON´T GET BURNT!

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