To sunblock or not to sunblock?

In many countries today, the ubiquitous summer message is some variant of “slip, slop, slap” (New Zealand’s – “slip into a shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat”).

The message is so entrenched that it would seem close to criminally negligent to not do so.

However, an alternative viewpoint is being put forward by some.

In this article, the author, suggests that even as a fair skinned person she seeks out sunlight to get the vitamin D benefits. She also contends that her diet, rich in omega oils has changed the way sunlight interacts with her skin – where once she would burn, now she lightly tans.

A rich 126-comment stream offers additional thoughts on her article.

And while official public health advice is not prepared to back away from the “slip, slop, slap” messages, debate is becoming spirited. In an article published last year the following opinions were put forward:

  • Robert Scragg (associate professor at the School of Population Health at the University of Auckland) is pushing for more sun. His position is “go out in the sun, just don’t get sunburnt”.
  • For its part, the Cancer Society says Scragg’s advocacy of 15 minutes at midday is “irresponsible”. Dermatologists, who deal with the effects of sun damage every day, are adamant that we can get all the vitamin D we need through incidental exposure.
  • Dr Louise Reiche (represented the New Zealand Dermatological Society on the Cancer Society) says sunning yourself in winter, when vitamin D levels in the body drop, is pointless. “We get very low levels of UV in our winter, so even if you were brave enough to stand naked in the midday sun in the winter, you would not be able to generate vitamin D from the sun at all.”
  • However, Richard McKenzie, principal scientist in atmospheric processes with Niwa, says this is in contention.

Given these viewpoints and the current state of research into the importance of sun protection, how do you plan to limit or extend your sun exposure this year?



ADDENDUM: Subsequent to posting this piece we were sent a copy of this video. It gives a comprehensive account of the current state of research into Vitamin D and health benefits associated with it. We highly recommend taking the time to watch it.



Related posts:

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  2. Vitamin D and pain relief
  3. The Sun. What it really does to you.
  4. Vitamin D Deficiencies At Epidemic Levels
  5. Why are we Vitamin D deficient?

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