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the Reframe teamJun 18, 2024 2:39:37 PM1 min read

Examing cancer risk: Sun & UV exposure

Examing cancer risk: Sun & UV exposure

How does being exposed to the sun and UV impact cancer risk?
Too much sun is the main cause of skin cancer. Excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can harm the DNA in your skin cells, leading to the development of skin cancer.

In the UK, nearly 9 out of 10 instances of melanoma skin cancer could be avoided by practicing sun safety and not using sunbeds. Sunburn also increases your risk of developing skin cancer.

How do I stay safe in the sun?
Whether you’re at home or on holiday, it’s important to stay safe in the sun to reduce your risk of skin cancer.

It may be surprising to know that in the UK, the sun's strength can lead to damage from mid-March to mid-October, even during cold or cloudy weather.

Practice these simple steps to stay sun safe:

  • Stay in the shade
  • Avoid the sun at the hottest times of the day – this is between 11am and 3pm in the UK
  • Wear protective clothing to cover your skin – a hat, long-sleeved tops, trousers, and sunglasses
  • Use sun cream with SPF protection – at least factor 30

Will I get enough vitamin D from the sun while practicing sun safety?
The level of sunlight required to produce vitamin D varies for each individual, based on factors such as skin type and the time of day or year.

Brief, unprotected sun exposure, lasting only minutes, is typically sufficient for people with fair skin who are prone to burning. However, people with darker skin that rarely burns may require longer exposure to get enough vitamin D. Getting the balance is important – be mindful of excessive sun exposure, as it can lead to sunburn and elevate the risk of skin cancer.

Should I take a vitamin D supplement?
The NHS advises people who are at risk of vitamin D deficiency to take a 10 microgram (400 I.U.) supplement year-round. Additionally, the NHS provides specific recommendations for children and infants.

The government recommends that everyone take a vitamin D supplement from October to the end of March, a period when the sun's rays are less intense.

Read the NHS guidance here.