As a nudist who likes to spend a lot of time in the sunshine, usually acquiring a dark tan, I am keenly interested in learning about the benefits and risks of doing so. For many years the medical community has been advising everyone to do everything possible to avoid exposure to the broad spectrum of rays emanating from our nearest star. Sunlight, we were told, is extremely dangerous. I wondered how, after humans have lived for thousands of centuries with daily exposure to sunlight, all of a sudden it’s so hazardous to your health and must be avoided. Of course there are some people who are more susceptible to some skin cancers which seem to be triggered by sunlight, but there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that they are a majority of the population, but most people followed this advice. The medical community was then very surprised, and unable to explain why this didn’t reduce skin cancer rates, as a matter of fact skin cancer rates have been rising significantly for 60 years or more.
About 15 years ago the medical community’s attention was attracted to some studies which had found the people with higher levels of vitamin D in their bodies had generally better health, and resistance to some cancers, than those with lower levels of vitamin D. Subsequent studies found that raising people’s vitamin D intake didn’t provide the health benefits that had been found in the earlier studies.
So, since an increased level of vitamin D in one’s system doesn’t directly improve people’s general health it is logical to conclude that something else is responsible for the benefits noted in the earlier studies. The primary source of vitamin D for humans has always been sunlight on the skin. Very little can be obtained from one’s diet. So this means that those people referenced in the early studies with higher levels of vitamin D must have spent more time being exposed to the sun. It is also logical to conclude that the health benefits found were most likely the result of exposure to sunlight. Sending children outside to play was actually providing significant benefits to them.
I think it is also logical to conclude that since the reduced exposure to sunlight has not reduced skin cancer rates, the issue is somewhat more complicated. It seems pretty clear that there are some benefits to people from sunlight exposure and the medical community ought to be conducting some studies to determine the facts. I think that very young children need to have significant exposure to the sun in order for their bodies to learn to absorb and benefit from sunlight, but what do I know?