We are often told to avoid the sun because of the damage it can cause to our skin and our health. A small portion of the sun’s rays is made up of UV rays with three (3) main types – UVA, UVB and UVC rays. Of the three, the first two types are considered the most damaging. UVA rays can penetrate and damage your skin’s dermis therefore causing wrinkles and premature aging. UVB rays, on the other hand, are absorbed by the epidermis or the top layer of your skin, resulting to a sunburn. Both of UVA and UVB can increase your risk of developing skin cancer.
All these risks are real with too much sun exposure. However, one thing that we shouldn’t forget are the benefits that we can actually get from being exposed to the sun. Sunlight can trigger the production serotonin, a happy hormone that can improve our well-being. Improved well-being means lower stress levels, which in turn could improve your skin health. There are also studies that show that it could lower blood pressure, improve the function of the immune system and reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
If too much exposure to the sun can cause skin cancer, too little can do the same. Getting enough sunlight can actually protect you from the risk of developing skin cancer. One of the many benefits that we can get from sunlight is that it causes our skin to produce vitamin D. Vitamin D plays a critical role in the absorption of calcium and in facilitating the functions of the immune system. Inadequate amount of vitamin D in our body can increase the risk of melanoma, a type of skin cancer. There are studies showing that patients with melanoma who were exposed to the sun more frequently were less likely to die and their tumor is found to be less aggressive.
There are already more than 800 references showing how effective Vitamin D is in the prevention and treatment of cancer. Vitamin D do not just help prevent melanoma but other types of cancer, such as ovarian, pancreatic, lung and prostate cancer as well. It is used by the body to destroy mutated cells and prevent the reproduction and the spread of cancer cells. It causes it to be differentiated and it reduces the growth of new blood vessels from the pre-existing ones.
Finding that sweet spot between too much and too little sun exposure is the key. All you need to do is remember the little things. Do not stay under the sun long enough to actually burn yourself because this will do more harm than good. Expose your skin to sunlight until your skin turns into the lightest shade of pink from time to time. Some people with fair skin may need less time in order to optimize the Vitamin D production and those with darker skin may need longer exposure.
Sunlight can be our friend. If done properly, we will be able to prevent certain diseases and maintain our optimal health.
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