Is sun good for you or bad for you ? not so long ago cancer groups and governments urged extreme caution and almost draconian restraint. now governments at least have relaxed the stringency they urged on us and instead advise a little daily exposure is beneficial, especially for the elderly.
On the negative side the arguments against sun are well known: drying or premature wrinkling of the skin, accelerated brown spots, cataracts and the dreaded fear of skin cancer, especially melanoma. On the plus side, sun induces a sense of well-being, lifts our mood and makes us more sociable and physically active. In addition, it is our primary source of vitamin s, vitamin D is essential for the formation and maintenance of strong bones. In the elderly, it prevents or delays the onset of osteoporosis or curbs its severity.
So what has swung the pendulum back in favour of a little moderate sun? First, an appreciation of just how vital it is to prevent or curtail osteoporosis in an aging population. Broken bones caused by brittleness is a major cause of accidents and fatalities in the elderly. Second, that skin cancer is not nearly as common as lung, colon, breast or prostate cancer which, ironically, vitamin d can help prevent. Third, that chronic lack of sun exposure can lead to autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, type-1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as psychiatric disorders such as seasonal affective disorder, mood disorder and schizophrenia. Fourth, that vitamin d helps to strengthen muscle, boost the immunity system and lessen inflammation. Fifth, that the negative effects of sun can be managed and contained by sensible public health education and advice.
• Confine sun exposure to brief but repeated times and avoid the hours 10 am to 2 pm .
• Wear a hat, long sleeves and high factor suncream . Total sunblock creams are not recommended as they deprive the body of Vitamin D just as surely as staying indoors all the time.