Why Avoiding Sunshine Could Mean An Early Death In Women
From The Business Insider by Sarah Knapton, (The Telegraph 5/14)
Women who never sunbathe during the summer are twice as likely to die than those
who sunbathe everyday, a major study has shown. Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden claim guidelines which advise
people to stay out of the sun unless wearing sunscreen may be harming the
population, particularly in countries like Britain.
Exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight is often cited as a cause of
skin melanoma. The NHS currently recommends avoiding overexposure to the sun to
prevent all types of skin cancer. But the new research, which followed nearly
30,000 women over 20 years, suggests that women who stay out of the sun are at
increased risk of skin melanomas and are twice as likely to die from any cause,
"The results of this study clearly showed that mortality was about double in
women who avoided sun exposure compared to the highest exposure group,” said lead author Dr Pelle Lindqvist.
“Sun exposure advice which is very restrictive in countries with low solar
intensity might in fact be harmful for women’s health.
“The mortality rate was increased two-fold among avoiders of sun exposure as
compared to those with the highest sun exposure habits.”
It is thought that a lack of vitamin D may to be blame. Vitamin D is created in
the body through exposure to sunshine and a deficiency is known to increase the
risk of diabetes, tuberculosis, multiple sclerosis and rickets. Cases of rickets have risen fourfold in the last 15 years as sunscreen has
increased in popularity. Previous studies have shown that vitamin D can
increase survival rates for women with breast cancer while deficiencies can
signal prostate cancer in men. Low levels of vitamin D have also been linked to
more aggressive forms of skin cancer.
Prof Dorothy Bennett, Professor of Cell Biology at St. George's, University of
London, said: “The findings support the consensus that the ideal amount of sun exposure for
Northern Europeans is ‘a little’, rather than zero. “As the authors comment, our bodies need sunlight to make essential vitamin D,
which can help us resist some cancer types. Those who normally avoid the sun
and/or cover most of their skin are advised to take vitamin D supplements.”
The study looked at 29,518 Swedish women who were recruited from 1990 to 1992
and asked to monitor their sunbathing and tanning salon habits. After 20 years there had been 2,545, deaths and researchers were surprised to
find that women who never sunbathed during the summer months were twice as
likely to have died from any cause. 1.5 women in a 100 who had the highest exposure to UV were found to have died,
compared with 3 in 100 for women who had avoided sunbathing.
Reduced Breast Cancer In Long Term Tanners
As reported by Looking Fit (5/11) Study: Long-Term Tanners-Less Breast Cancer -
A study out of Sweden suggests a powerful connection between tanning and a
decreased incidence of breast cancer and other cancers in women. The research
followed nearly 50,000 Swedish women for 15 years. The participants ranged in
age from 30 to 49 when the program began back in 1991-1992. Approximately 2,000
of the ladies received a cancer diagnosis during the study, with the following
types reported: brain, colon-rectal, lung, ovarian and breast cancer.
In an effort to examine potential associations between UV exposure and the
increased or decreased risk of various cancers including breast cancer, the
researchers reviewed the history of UV exposure for all the women when they
were ages 10 to 29. The breast cancer rate was nearly 50 percent less among
those subjects who had spent more than a week a year during those years
enjoying moderate UV exposure (even on an annual vacation). The tanned Swedes
also showed 30 percent less risk of developing an internal cancer as compared
to their non-tanning counterparts.
The researchers, from the University of Oxford in England, the University of
Oslo in Norway, The Karolinska Institute in Sweden and the Harvard School of
Public Health in the United States, concluded there was no support to establish
a negative link between overall cancer risk and ongoing UV exposure experienced
earlier in life. In fact, the women who received UV exposure through indoor
tanning or the sun experienced significantly fewer cases of internal ailments
such as breast cancer.
The study's authors intimate that the decreased propensity for illness can be
attributed to vitamin D associated with increased UV exposure through tanning
equipment or sunlight.