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OPINION

Health and Wellness: The good and bad of sunshine

Ann Cochran - Dallas County Public Health
Perry Chief

We know that too much sun is hard on our skin. The combination of sun exposure and aging causes wrinkles, and leathery, dry skin. Worse, sun can increase the likelihood of cancer. People with pale skin are more prone to getting sun-related skin cancers. (https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/benefits-of-moderate-sun-exposure).

On the flip side, there are positive effects to moderate sun exposure. After staying indoors for an extended time, such as during a long spring of isolation, sitting in the sun can feel great. And better than sitting, is mild exercise combined with sunshine. A daily walk provides stretching, promotes balance, and builds endurance. If you walk during the day, your exposure to ultraviolet light will trigger your body to produce vitamin D.

As with all things, moderation is the key. Our skin can only produce the amount of vitamin D we need. We can’t stockpile it. So more sunshine doesn’t result in even more vitamin D once our body has reached its limit. Unfortunately, this isn’t true for the risk of skin cancer. The more sun exposure, the higher the risk of skin cancer, with no upper limit.

Avoid sun exposure at mid-day, use sunscreen, and wear sunglasses that filter UV light.