Women who sunbathe regularly live longer and enjoy health benefits which outweigh the risk of skin cancer, according to research presented at the Swedish Society of Medicine's annual conference in Gothenburg.
"Our studies show that women with active sunbathing habits live longer," said chief physician Håkan Olsson at the division of oncology at Lund University. Olson shared his report at the annual conference of the Society of Medicine in Sweden this month.
Studies of the sun exposure habits of 40,000 women in southern Sweden have found that the health benefits of spending extended periods in the sun outweigh the negatives, such as the increased risk for skin cancer, according to a report in the Sweden Local.
Olson said, vitamin D produced by the body when tanning gives vital protection against blood clots, diabetes and some tumours.
He said there was overwhelming evidence that exposure to the sun helps protect against blood clots in the leg, which claim the lives of 25,000 Britons a year. These clots, known as deep vein thromboses, have been shown to be far more prevalent in winter than summer.
Professor Olsson, who was presenting his research at the yearly meeting of the Swedish Society of Medicine, cited other studies showing that more patients are diagnosed with diabetes in the colder months, a phenomenon attributed to a lack of vitamin D, reports the Daily Mail.
But Ed Yong, of Cancer Research UK, said: ‘While some sunshine is good for us and vitamin D is important for good bone health, there’s inconclusive evidence to suggest that vitamin D protects against other disease such as cancer or heart disease, added the Daily Mail report.
A study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), reported by the BBC, says the danger of dying from skin cancer has been exaggerated and the potential benefits from the sun played down. This opinion is echoed in the UK Health Research Forum.
The BBC report quotes the Health Education Authority (HEA) as saying these studies are based on faulty research and could lead people into complacency about skin cancer.
Skin cancer is however an increasing problem in Sweden, reports the Local, including the occurrence of dangerous malignant melanomas and the role of vitamin D is becoming an increasing popular cancer research area as scientific evidence mounts of its positive health benefits.
While doctors agree that avoiding sunburn and exercising caution in the sun is important, there is some dissent over blanket recommendations against solarium's, protective clothing and comprehensive use of sunscreen.
According to Livestrong, "You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't appreciate a warm, sunny day- especially on a snowy day. Moreover, soaking up days has actual health benefits, since sunlight boosts vitamin D. However, too much exposure to the sun---particularly without protecting yourself from its harmful UVA and UVB rays---can lead to a myriad of health (and appearance) issues. Therefore, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends always putting on sunblock with at least 15 SPF before heading outdoors.
While the experts compare studies and debate the benefits of the bodies exposure to sunlight, are you willing to risk it all and trade a day of trudging through the snow that has blanketed the United States for a day sunbathing in a tropical climate?