What type are you?
Do you dash out into the sun, casting off all but the most essential elements of clothing, and immerse yourself in its life-giving rays? Or, are you more the tiptoe type, slathering on sunscreen, then donning extra layers of clothing to reduce the total surface area of bare skin to less than seven square inches?
The debate is a serious one - with serious consequences. Consider:
-One million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year.
-1 of every 5 Americans, including 1 of every 3 Caucasians, will develop skin cancer during their life.
-Sun exposure is responsible for over 90% of all skin cancers.
-Your risk of skin cancer doubles if you have had 5 or more sunburns.
But, the sun also provides terrific health benefits.
A recent study from the Institute for Cancer Research in Oslo, Norway indicates the benefits may outweigh the risks. Previous studies have shown increased exposure to the sun provides health benefits through the production of vitamin D. Vitamin D helps protect the body from many diseases, including various cancers, rickets, osteoporosis, and diabetes. Vitamin D also helps the immune system to function properly.
So, do you or don't you?
It's a tradeoff to be weighed carefully. The researchers estimate that by doubling the amount of sun exposure in Norway, the number of skin cancer deaths each year would also double, to approximately 300. That's the downside. But, they also estimate the number of deaths from other types of cancer - due to the protective benefits of vitamin D - would be reduced by about 3,000. Hmm...
So, what type are you now?