Oct 27, 2010
A major British cancer organization is preparing a new position statement on sun exposure that may acknowledge vitamin D deficiency as an effect of sun avoidance.
“Cancer Research UK’s SunSmart campaign encourages people to enjoy the sun safely and avoid exposures that lead to sunburn,” reads the draft statement, acquired by The Independent.
“However, for most people, sunlight is also the most important source of vitamin D, which is essential for good bone health.”
Vitamin D is synthesized by the body upon exposure  to sunlight. It plays an important role in not only bone health , but also in regulating the immune system and preventing cancer . But with increasing sedentism and an emphasis on preventing skin cancer  by wearing protective clothing and sunscreen, rates of deficiency  are on the rise across the First World.
“The time required to make sufficient vitamin D is typically short and less than the amount of time needed for skin to redden and burn,” the draft statement reads. “Regularly going outside for a matter of minutes around the middle of the day without sunscreen  should be enough. When it comes to sun exposure , little and often is best. However, people should get to know their own skin to understand how long they can spend outside before risking sunburn under different conditions.”
According to Sara Hiom of Cancer Research UK, the organization will stop short of making specific recommendations, out of recognition that people’s skin tone strongly affects how quickly they burn and how long it takes them to synthesize vitamin D.
“Even once we reach a consensus we will not be advising the public to go in the sun in the middle of the day without sunscreen,” she said. “This is because, for some people — those most likely to be at risk  of skin cancer — a few minutes in the middle of the day is enough for them to burn and cause serious and lasting skin damage.”
“Our advice needs to be general and is, and will remain, to enjoy the sun safely, spend time in the shade around midday and know your own skin type,” she said.
Sources for this story include: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-s… .