Sensible health warnings to stay out of sun may also be denying some people the benefits it provides

July 09, 1999

(Are we really dying for a tan?)

Despite all the warnings of skin cancers, people worldwide continue to worship the sun - but are the effects of the sun all bad for people? In this week's BMJ, researchers from the University of Bristol raise the issue that the public should be educated on both the pros and cons of sunlight exposure, so that they can weigh up the associated risks for themselves. Some people, who are not at high risk of suffering skin cancer, may be missing out on the health benefits of the sun, say the team, but they warn this observation shouldn't signal a rush for the sun loungers.

Dr Andrew Ness and colleagues explain that as well as being a major factor in malignant melanomas, sunlight also provides some health benefits. For example, essential vitamin D (produced after exposure to sunlight) has been reported in some studies, say the authors, to have a protective effect against coronary heart disease (there are more deaths from heart attacks during the winter months). They also suggest that being in the sun has a positive effect on mental health, as sitting in the sun is enjoyable and relaxing.

Other health benefits, say the team, include reducing the risk of rickets (caused by vitamin D deficiency); treating certain skin conditions, such as psoriasis; and the incidence of multiple sclerosis.

Ness et al surmise that evidence exists to suggest that in some cases the potential benefits of exposure to sunlight may outweigh the widely publicised adverse effects on the incidence of skin cancer. They stress that this does NOT mean that the advice should now be for the public to increase their exposure to the sun, particularly in light of the thinning of the ozone layer, and that sunworshippers should wait until the conclusions of formal research in this area are made before rushing for their sun loungers.

Dr Andrew Ness, Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology, University of Bristol, Department of Social Medicine, Bristol


Related Mental Health Articles from Brightsurf:

Mental health strained by disaster
A new study found that suicide rates increase during all types of disasters -- including severe storms, floods, hurricanes and ice storms -- with the largest overall increase occurring two years after a disaster.

The mental health impact of pandemics for front line health care staff
New research shows the impact that pandemics have on the mental health of front-line health care staff.

World Mental Health Day -- CACTUS releases report of largest researcher mental health survey
On the occasion of 'World Mental Health Day' 2020, CACTUS, a global scientific communications company, has released a global survey on mental health, wellbeing and fulfilment in academia.

Mental illness, mental health care use among police officers
A survey study of Texas police officers examines how common mental illness and mental health care use are in a large urban department.

COVID-19 outbreak and mental health
The use of online platforms to guide effective consumption of information, facilitate social support and continue mental health care delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic is discussed in this Viewpoint.

COVID-19 may have consequences for mental health
The COVID-19 pandemic appears to be adversely affecting mental health among hospitalised patients, the healthcare professionals treating them and the general population.

Mental health outcomes among health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and insomnia among health care workers in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic are reported in this observational study.

Mental ill health 'substantial health concern' among police, finds international study
Mental health issues among police officers are a 'substantial health concern,' with around 1 in 4 potentially drinking at hazardous levels and around 1 in 7 meeting the criteria for post traumatic stress disorder and depression, finds a pooled data analysis of the available international evidence, published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Examining health insurance nondiscrimination policies with mental health among gender minority individuals
A large private health insurance database was used to examine the association between between health insurance nondiscrimination policies and mental health outcomes for gender minority individuals.

Mental health care for adolescents
Researchers examined changes over time in the kinds of mental health problems for which adolescents in the United States received care and where they got that care in this survey study with findings that should be interpreted within the context of several limitations including self-reported information.

Read More: Mental Health News and Mental Health Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to