Australia, where I live, is probably the skin cancer capital of the world. (It may have something to do with white skinned people adopting an outdoors lifestyle in a sunny climate.)
There was a very good response to this by the Australian government. They ran a huge education campaign about the dangers of skin cancer. (One of the skin cancers, melanoma, is one of the most virulent cancers. If you have a mole that may have changed colour or shape, please get it checked. My partner checked, three years ago now – if she hadn’t then she would very likely be dead by now.)
The government campaign was: slip, slop, slap. (Slip on a shirt, slap on some sunscreen, slap on a hat.)
My partner and I practised this faithfully. We also avoided going out during high the high UV time of day. (This is published online in Australia, for each region, by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology).
In fact it seems that we practised it too well. It seems that my partner may now have a low Vitamin D count (or a very mild deficiency).
The research on Vitamin D and its role in physical and mental health is relatively new. However it does seem that somes things are clear enough to take notice of.
A lack of Vitamin D may be linked to depression and other psychiatric disorders. This is a small study – and I don’t think it proves causation; but it is worth noting.
Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to some forms of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. A good overview is given in this video from Australia’s ABC TV.
In general the conclusion seems to be that we need about 15 minutes of sun falling on at least 15% of our skin (arms as well as face) each day. To avoid the dangers of skin cancer do this outside the peak times for UV (between 9-3 in most parts of Australia most of the year). This will vary depending on the season and where you live.
You can find information on the symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency and non-medical options for treatment on this page.
Enjoy the summer, if you’re in the northern hemisphere (but look after your skin), enjoy the winter if you’re in the southern hemisphere (and get some sunlight on your skin everyday if you can).
Tags: vitamin d