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Big Benefits to Sun Exposure

Big Benefits to Sun Exposure
By: Wendy Ray

Wear sunscreen and a hat are two things we know we should do to protect ourselves from harmful UV rays, but new research suggests that soaking up the sun is not always bad. For years we've been told sun exposure could cause cancer. Now several recent studies suggest that it might help protect us against certain forms of cancer, and vitamin D, also known as the "sunshine vitamin" could be the reason.

Who doesn't enjoy time outside on a warm sunny spring day? You probably don't think about it being good for your health, even thought it might be. Lavonna Wollard-Biddle is the nurse manager at Southeast Hospital. She says news that time out in the sun can prevent certain cancers is exciting and it's all because of vitamin D.

Our skin needs ultraviolet rays to make vitamin D; Wollard-Biddle says it's vital to our health. "Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption. If we don't have vitamin D our bones are not as strong as they should be," she says. Putting on sunscreen actually blocks against the production of vitamin D, that's why some scientists are now saying 15 minutes in the sun a few times a week without sunscreen is safe. They also say that time out in the sun is good for your health, possibly protecting us against prostate, lung, colon, and skin cancers. This doesn't mean though people should stay out in the sun all day long; remember moderation is key. "Fifteen minutes a few times a week is a good idea, but if you're going to stay out 30 minutes or an hour you need to wear sunscreen," Wollard-Biddle says.

Despite what studies find, Tyler Barnhart says he's not changing how he takes care of his four year old son Austin. "He's younger. His skin is more sensitive to sun and I make sure I protect him," Barnhart says.

Not everyone agrees on this new information to soak up some rays. A spokesperson with the American Academy of Dermatology says advising people to get sun is irresponsible.

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