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Good Day Sunshine: Do You Know How the Sun is Truly Affecting Your Body?


Our relationship with the sun represents one of those good news/bad news scenarios: sunshine impacts our health in all sorts of good ways, yet too much exposure to the sun can literally kick us to the curb in the long run. The solution? Understand what represents the right “dosage” of sunshine for our bodies and how to use the sun for maximum effect for our overall mental and physical health!

The Good News

So many studies focus on the ill effects of too much sun that it’s easy to lost sight of all the great things the sun does for us. For examples, weighted studies have documented that exposure to the sun is a great mood enhancer. Simply put, more sunlight means better moods; while less sunlight can lead to symptoms of depression. Ever wonder why we experience the so-called “winter blues?” It has to do with lack of sunshine during the winter months! In fact, research has shown that even indirect exposure to sunlight (i.e. through a window) can improve one’s mood.

But it doesn’t stop there. Studies have linked vitamin D, commonly known as the “sunshine vitamin,” to protection against colon, kidney, and breast cancer. It’s also linked to improvements in bone health and overall mortality. On the opposite end of the scale, neurological, cardiovascular, and immune diseases are associated with the LACK of vitamin D deficiency. By increasing your exposure to sunlight, you can decrease your risk for these diseases. Furthermore, Vitamin D combined with other cancer treatments also tends to improve the patient’s prognosis.

The Bad News

Ok, so we just recapped some of the benefits of the sun. The makes us feel good and puts a little color in our faces so we look good as well. But over-exposure to the sun puts creases and spots on your face. In other words, too much sun can accelerate the effects of aging, not to mention the risk of developing skin cancer.

The Big C

Skin cancer is no laughing matter. Let’s be clear about this: ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the number-one cause of skin cancer. But don’t kid yourself. UV light from tanning beds is just as harmful. Our skin has an uncanny ability to try and repair itself but nothing can completely “undo” sun damage. That’s why it is important to use sun-block starting when we’re young. As we age our skin becomes more sensitive so the smart approach is to stay out of the sun for long periods of time.

Prevention is King

You can reap all the positive benefits of sunshine and still be smart about it. Consider the following:

-       Exposure to direct sunlight should be avoided during the peak UV hours of 10:00am – 2:00pm.

-       Use sun block with a sun-protection-factor of 30 or more and apply it every two hours while in the sun.

-       UV protection exists in virtually everything from clothing, cosmetics, sunglasses and even contact lenses. You can be fashion-conscious and safe at the same time.

-       Perform skin exams regularly in order to notice any changes, discoloration or growths to/on your skin.

On so many levels the sun really is the basis the basis of life. So it’s logical that sensible exposure to the sun can enhance our lives instead of cutting it short! 


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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of moriakimitsuru

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