May 13, 2016

More Sun, Longer Life

New research from 2016 finds that women who sunbathe are likely to live longer than those who avoid the sun, even though sunbathers are at an increased risk of developing skin cancer.

An analysis of information on 29,518 Swedish women who were followed for 20 years revealed that "Longer life expectancy among women with active sun exposure habits was related to a decrease in heart disease and non-cancer non–heart disease deaths, causing the relative contribution of death due to cancer to increase." Whether the positive effect of sun exposure demonstrated in this observational study is mediated by vitamin D, another mechanism related to UV radiation, or by unmeasured bias could not be determined.

"We found smokers in the highest sun exposure group were at a similar risk as non-smokers avoiding sun exposure, indicating avoidance of sun exposure to be a risk factor of the same magnitude as smoking," said Dr. Pelle Lindqvist, lead author of the Journal of Internal Medicine study. "Guidelines being too restrictive regarding sun exposure may do more harm than good for health." In other words, get out and enjoy some sunshine, just do not overdo it.