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In The News
Source from http://www.mirror.co.uk/
May 19, 2006
15 REASONS WHY THE SUN IS GOOD FOR YOU
Most of us start smiling when the summer comes and it's no
surprise - a little sunshine every day can boost your mood and also help to
prevent a host of serious illnesses.
For years we have been told to cover up in the sun to cut
the risk of getting skin cancer. But now it seems that a little bit of
sunshine on your body is actually good for you.
Studies have shown that a sensible amount of sun reduces
your risk of several cancers and other serious health conditions.
And it's all thanks to vitamin D, which is made by our
bodies through the action of the sun's UVB rays on our skin.
Professor Michael Holick, of Boston University School of
Medicine and author of The UV Advantage (I-Books, £6.99), says: "We
get about 90 to 95 percent of our vitamin D from the sun.
"It is essential for absorbing calcium, keeping our
bones healthy, and for protecting against serious chronic diseases later in
life such as osteoporosis, Type II diabetes, multiple sclerosis and many
He advises that we should go out in the sun without sun
block for between five and 15 minutes a day, at least three times a week in
spring and summer, to boost our vitamin D levels.
You can also get vitamin D from your diet - oily fish,
such as salmon and tuna, is a good source - as is margarine, milk, eggs and
fortified breakfast cereals. But most of us simply don't eat healthily
enough to get adequate amounts, leaving the sun as the primary source of
this important vitamin.
Here are the top 15 ways in which the sun can improve
- It cheers you up
Sunshine boosts levels of serotonin - the body's natural happy hormone.
That's why we tend to feel happier and more energetic when the sun
shines. Regular sun can stave off moderate depression, particularly if
combined with exercise, such as a walk in the park. It's also been shown
that exercising outdoors creates more endorphins in the body than
- Reduces heart disease
A study in the British Medical Journal showed
that people in the UK are more likely to die of heart disease in winter
than in summer, which is believed to be because of low levels of vitamin
D. Where you live in the UK also matters. Blackpool has 27 percent more
hours of sunshine a year than Burnley - and 9 per cent fewer deaths from
coronary heart disease.
Cholesterol levels also rise in winter, according to reports in medical
magazine The Lancet, and this is because our vitamin D levels fall.
And Dr Holick found that exposing people with high blood pressure to UVB
rays in a tanning salon lowers blood pressure by similar amounts as
- Prevents diabetes
Vitamin D may help to prevent the onset of diabetes. "A study in
Finland found children given a vitamin D supplement for several years
had an 80 percent reduced risk of developing Type I diabetes as young
adults," says Dr Holick.
A deficiency in vitamin D is also thought to contribute to Type II
diabetes, according to a recent study by Dr Barbara Boucher at St
Bartholomew's and the Royal London Hospitals.
- Beats SAD
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) - or the winter blues - is a
depression specifically caused by lack of sunlight. Lightboxes can be
used to treat it, although increased exposure to natural sunlight is
more beneficial. Get out for an hour's walk in the morning during autumn
and winter months, and sit outside for 15 minutes a day in summer.
- Helps prevent MS
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system,
leading to tremors and even paralysis. The cause is not known but
scientists have noted that exposure to sunlight in childhood appears to
dramatically reduce the risk of developing this disease in later life.
Scientists have also noted that the incidence of MS is lower in sunnier
- Prevents cavities
The sun could even help to keep your teeth strong. A dental study found
the prevalence of cavities was greater in children from Scotland, the
North-West, Wales and Merseyside - areas with less than average
sunshine. The proportion of 12-year-olds with untreated cavities was
three times greater in Scotland than in the South West Thames region.
- Relieves aches and pains
Being out in the sun helps to warm the body's muscles and eases
stiffness, reducing the pain caused by inflammatory conditions such as
- Reduces risk of cancers
Although over exposure to the sun increases your risk of skin cancer,
vitamin D provided by sunlight can actually help to significantly reduce
your risk of other types of cancer.
A study carried out by the US National Cancer Institute found that
people exposed to high levels of sunlight were significantly less likely
to die from breast and colon cancer. A similar effect was seen in
bladder, womb, esophagus and stomach cancer.
- Boosts fertility
The sun reduces levels of the hormone melatonin which suppresses
fertility, so it is more likely you'll conceive in summer.
And sunlight not only makes you more fertile, it increases the length of
your fertility. A study in Turkey discovered that women who get less
than an hour of sunlight a week reach menopause seven to nine years
Sunlight also boosts testosterone levels in men, which makes summer the
perfect time for baby-making.
- Gives you more energy
Melatonin also regulates sleep, so having lower levels of this hormone
in your body gives you more get up and go. This is why you need less
sleep in summer but still feel livelier. Plus, being woken by natural
light rather than an alarm clock helps you feel more positive.
- Eases IBD
People with Crohn's disease or other inflammatory bowel disorders (IBD)
generally have low levels of vitamin D in their bodies, according to
several studies. Sunlight is the best way to boost vitamin D in these
Although it is available in some foods (including meat, eggs, oily fish
and some breakfast cereals), levels are low and poor absorption of fat -
a common complication of inflammatory bowel disease - may make it
difficult for sufferers to absorb vitamin D from their diet.
- Beats period problems
About one in five women of childbearing age suffer from polycystic ovary
disease which causes abnormal periods, unwanted body hair and
Half of 14 women treated with vitamin D and calcium by Dr Susan Thys-Jacobs
at St Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, Columbia University in New York,
recovered normal periods and two became pregnant. Dr Thys-Jacobs also
found that women with premenstrual syndrome are likely to be deficient
in vitamin D.
- Helps skin conditions
Exposure to the sun can help to heal such skin conditions as psoriasis,
acne and eczema. Regular controlled sun exposure is often prescribed for
sufferers. For serious cases, contact your GP. For minor cases, try
exposing affected areas of skin to the sun for up to 30 minutes before
covering up or slapping on the sunscreen - but make sure you never burn.
- Boosts your immune system
Sunlight encourages the production of white blood cells, which help to
boost your immune system and fight infection.
- Helps you lose weight
Higher levels of serotonin in our bodies not only makes you feel happy
but it also suppresses the appetite, so you'll eat less in warmer
Go out in the sun at least three times a week to boost levels of vitamin
STAY SAFE IN THE RAYS
Your skin starts to turn pink when you've been exposed
to enough sun. It takes around half this time to produce vitamin D without
risking your skin (usually between 10-15 minutes between 10am-3pm in the
UK). It takes black and Asian skin up to six times longer to produce
Never overdo the sun - burning and excessive exposure
will increase your risk of skin cancer. Cover up or apply sunscreen
(minimum SPF15) after your initial vitamin D-boosting burst.
Source from http://www.mirror.co.uk/