The health ministry came out with its usual vacation warning Monday that exposure to the sun causes skin damage, premature aging and possible skin cancer.
On the same day researchers in Sweden announced a paradox that women who sunbathe are likely to live longer than those who avoid the sun, even though sunbathers are at an increased risk of developing skin cancer.
An analysis of information on 29,518 Swedish women who were followed for 20 years revealed that longer life expectancy among women with active sun exposure habits was related to a decrease in heart disease and noncancer/non–heart disease deaths, causing the relative contribution of death due to cancer to increase, according to a report by the academic publisher John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Scientists have no idea why this is so.
Whether the positive effect of sun exposure demonstrated in this observational study is mediated by vitamin D, another mechanism related to UV radiation, or by unmeasured bias cannot be determined, they said.
“We found smokers in the highest sun exposure group were at a similar risk as non-smokers avoiding sun exposure, indicating avoidance of sun exposure to be a risk factor of the same magnitude as smoking,” said Pelle Lindqvist, lead author of the Journal of Internal Medicine study, “Guidelines being too restrictive regarding sun exposure may do more harm than good for health.”
Researchers were from Karolinska University Hospital, Lund University in Sweden.
Meanwhile, the Ministerio de Salud warns against exposure to the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and the use of protective clothing. The ministry encouraged the use of sunblock.