Strangely enough, sunbathing walks the line between being beneficial and potentially creating some serious health problems. Sunlight and indoor ultraviolet (UV) induced tanning, from tanning beds, for example, has been linked with accelerating skin aging and the promotion of skin cancers, and at the same time, it’s needed for the body to naturally produce Vitamin D. So, what can you do?
The truth is, you can’t avoid every single ray of UV light. The suntan is body’s best effort to fend off the known cancerous effects of UV light. Having a tan protects you from part of harm, but you still need the Sun (natural or artificial) to get that protective coating.
Why would you even want to sit in the sun’s rays in the first place? Well, there are several reasons. Sunlight boosts Vitamin D levels which regulates at least 1,000 different genes. It also helps calcium and phosphorus absorption, making it vital for healthy bones.
Vitamin D deficiency can lead to cardiovascular disease. Studies indicate a 30% to 50% higher cardiovascular morbidity and mortality associated with reduced sun exposure caused by changes in season or latitude.
Sun exposure also sets the circadian rhythm, the internal body clock that influences many processes, including sleeping and eating patterns. It is also closely connected to core body temperature, brain wave activity, hormone production, cell regeneration, and other biological activities.
Research shows that sunbathing can make you happier and combats depression. It seems to increases levels of serotonin and its associated receptors, resulting in better moods and a calm, focused mental outlook.
Other benefits include improving brain function, protecting against some brain disorders, encouraging dental health, reducing diabetes, treating arthritis and many more.
While there are many advantages, you should also remember that UV exposure is directly linked to skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and malignant melanoma. These are quite common and generally easy to treat but can be deadly.
As with most things in life, moderation is the best path. In terms of advice, it is recommended to use sunscreen and limit exposure during the hours when the Sun is strongest (midday).