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Home > Health Information > Preventative Care > Vitamin D > Benefits of Sunlight - Vitamin D

UVA - What's Deadly in Sunlight

A new study by the US Food and Drug Administration, led by Dr. Dianne Godar, shows that ultraviolet light can actually prevent you from developing melanoma, the most malignant form of skin cancer. Before you throw away your sunscreens and sun block lotions and voice any surprised reaction to the above statement, note what follows.

There are actually two types of ultraviolet rays coming from the sun: UVA and UVB. Both UVA and UVB can cause your skin to tan and burn. The difference is that UVA is actually the more "harmful sunlight", as it penetrates the epidermis (skin) more deeply and is more related to skin cancers, photo-aging and wrinkles. UVB, on the other hand, is more associated with the production of Vitamin D, which plays a role in making bones stronger and can help prevent various cancers such as pancreatic, prostate, colon, breast, lung and even skin.

According to Dr. Godar, UVB triggers the production of Vitamin D, which appears to be protective against melanoma. The reason for the surprising reports of increasing incidents of melanoma among indoor workers is their lack of exposure to UVB. Only UVA is able to penetrate window glass; thus, indoor workers are left exposed to only this type of ultraviolet light and denied exposure to UVB, which outdoor workers enjoy in abundance. As a result, indoor workers do not get the protective benefits that Vitamin D produced by exposure to UVB light provides. Because UVB rays are most abundant between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., outdoor workers get their fair share, which activates this natural protection against cancer.

If you lather on a lot of sunscreen and sun block lotion every time you go out, you create a barrier to your skin's built-in protection against cancer. So what is the best thing to do according to the study? Get your adequate amount of UVB sunlight at midday when UVB rays are at their peak; a few minutes of basking under the sun is enough to provide your daily dose of UVB-Vitamin D complex. Keep in mind that over-exposure doesn't mean that your body will produce more Vitamin D: it will only cause harm and damage to your skin. Just remember that the darker your skin, the longer should be your exposure to maximize your Vitamin D production.

Should you decide to wear sunscreen or sun block creams or lotions, look for the ingredients titanium dioxide and zinc oxide in your sun tan lotions and sunscreens, as these have been proven safe and effective to use for more than 75 years.

The bottom line in sunlight exposure and melanoma is that the combination of low Vitamin D levels and high exposure to UVA rays contributes to the increasing rate of melanoma findings among indoor workers. To decrease your chances of developing this malignant cancer, it is definitely advisable to spend some time in the sun.

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