Excessive Sunlight Exposure
Exposure to sunlight, in moderate amounts, is enjoyable to most people, as well as having certain health benefits.1 For example, direct exposure of the skin (i.e., hands, face, arms, etc.) to sunlight leads to the formation of vitamin D. Adequate amounts of vitamin D in the body prevent rickets and osteomalacia (the deficiency diseases of vitamin D) and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Seasonal differences in deaths from heart disease have been suggested by some researchers to be partly related to reduced exposure to sunlight in the winter months.2 Ultraviolet light (from sunlight and other sources) has been used to treat psoriasis and some other skin conditions.3 Sunlight has also been linked to reduced risks of prostate,4 colon,5 ovarian,6 and breast cancers.7 The anticancer effect is thought to result from synthesis of vitamin D resulting from exposure to sunlight. Excessive sunlight, however, particularly sunburn, can be detrimental to health in many ways.
Health Problems Associated with Excessive Sunlight Exposure
(The following list is comprehensive, although not necessarily exhaustive. Contact your healthcare professional for more information.)
1. Ness AR, Frankel SJ, Gunnell, Smith GD. Are we really dying for a tan? BMJ 1999;319:114-6.