The sun is great! It is essential for life on earth. It is a source of vital vitamin D. And the sun is a great source of light, heat, and summer weather.
However, the sun is also a source of major problems.
You've probably heard that the sun is the cause of cancer—especially skin cancer and melanoma. In fact, the sun responsible for 90% of all cancers of the skin.
You are probably also aware that the sun is the cause of hormonal disorders, burns, pigmentation, and sun damage, just as you know that the sun is the cause of accelerated aging of the skin. We all have seen people in their 80s and 90s who have spent a lot of time in the sun and even sunbathing, with the result that today they have a wrinkled and leathery skin.
The sun also causes a wide range of skin problems, especially pimples and acne, so this is another reason extensive exposure to the sun may not be entirely safe.
Many people mistakenly believe the theory that the sun is good for pimples. This is probably because they have had their pimples dry out and almost burn away after exposure to the sun.
The reality is that the deeper skin is irritated by the sun. This irritation provokes even more outbreaks of pimples and acne.
This explains why, after a sun and beach holiday when your pimples seem to be improving, you come home and suddenly experience an increase in breakouts.
Treating pimples by exposing them to the sun creates a vicious circle, which also has major health consequences.
Skin cancer is the worst of those consequences. 36,100 Danes are diagnosed with skin cancer or melanoma each year.
According to the Board of Health, Denmark has one of the highest rates of both skin cancer and melanoma in the world. Over the past 30 years this has tripled.
This increase is of course connected with more and more Danes sunbathing, taking sunny holidays, and having the view that tanned skin is beautiful and a sign of health.
If you’ve heard about the sun and its harmful effects, you may also have heard that sunscreen is the solution.
That sunscreen could be the cause of melanoma. That sunscreen is allergenic. That sunscreen is an endocrine disruptor. That sunscreen blocks the absorption of vitamin D.
These contradictions are not true.
The world's leading scientists, universities, research institutions, and cancer organizations all agree. Sunscreen is important. It is important 365 days a year to protect against the sun's harmful rays - and sunscreen prevents damage caused by the sun.
Queensland University of Technology published in October 2013 the results of the world's first study in humans, with the aim to evaluate the effect of sunscreen on the molecular level.
The result was evident. Sunscreen provides 100% protection against all three types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.
The prerequisite is of course that sunscreen is used correctly.
Further research results from Queensland University of Technology showed that sunscreen protects the genes in the body that naturally protect against sun damage.
Sunscreen not only protects against skin cancer; sunscreen also boosts the body's natural protection against skin cancer.
What you should also note is that the cells in the body - so-called super-hero p53 genes - not only protect, but also repair cells that have been damaged. So you need to take good care of these cells.
The sun is a source of vitamin D, which is important for healthy bones, a good immune system, and the formation of blood cells.
Media coverage saying that sunscreen blocks the absorption of vitamin D, makes many people skeptical. Some even choose not to use sunscreen. However, this is a big mistake!
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) says that 5 to 15 minutes of sunlight (UVB radiation) a few times a week is enough to maintain a healthy vitamin-D levels.
In 2009 the British Journal of Dermatology published an article with a larger cross-reference, where it was concluded that daily use of sunscreen did not mean a lower level of vitamin D than in those who did not use sunscreen.
So there is no reason to fear vitamin D deficiency because of using sunscreen.
It is also worth noting that in Denmark, during the majority of the year the sun is not strong enough to form vitamin D in the body.
This creates a need for vitamin D supplements, sunscreen or not.
Although the sun is a source of vitamin D, it is not the only source. Vitamin D may also be taken from different foods.
For example you can get vitamin D from fish, meat, eggs, and dairy products. Fatty fish such as herring and salmon are good sources of vitamin D.
Sunscreen is the best known preventive treatment for the problems caused by the sun.
Completely avoiding the sun is neither healthful nor particularly fun. We humans need the sun--there is no doubt about it.
However, it is completely foolish to enjoy the sun without protection against the sun's harmful rays, especially when a preventive solution is available.
Remember to use sunscreen!