Exposure to the sun can be useful and dangerous to the skin - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Exposure to the sun can be useful and dangerous to the skin

July 14, 2005

By: Orrin Schonfeld

For many americans, summer fun means summer sun, but dermatologists like New York University Medical Center researcher Darrell Rigel have long known that too much sun can cause skin cancer, including the deadliest form - melanoma.

Doctors recommend staying out of the sun or using sunscreen to reduce the risk of getting skin cancer. But it may not be as simple as that. When cancer researcher Marianne Berwick examined a large group of melanoma patients for their sun habits prior to getting cancer, she found that more sun seemed to help as well as hurt.

Writing in the journal of the National Cancer Institute, Berwick explained that the answer may involve vitamin D. Our skin manufactures this cancer-fighting compound when exposed to the sun's ultraviolet rays. But does this mean we should build up a "healthy glow"? 

Both researchers agree that until more is known about vitamin D, getting a few minutes of sunlight several times per week is much healthier than any tan.

Berwick is now following 3700 melanoma patients worldwide to confirm the connection between sunlight and vitamin D's cancer-fighting effects.

Click here to find out more about vitamin D's cancer-fighting effects.

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