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To think we're far too scared of the sun!

(253 Posts)
BedHanger Thu 09-May-13 08:59:07

A leading lecturer in dermatology at Edinburgh university has said that the benefits of sun exposure "may far outweigh the risks" after a new study has shown an hour's exposure significantly reduces blood pressure:


This is on top of our growing understanding of the vital role played by vitamin d in health.

AIBU to worry more about whether my DC are getting sufficient sun than about the potential risks? I don't let them burn btw, but I do make sure they have plenty of sun cream-free time whenever possible.

BedHanger Thu 09-May-13 13:03:37

LookingForward, you shouldn't really need to cream your 11-week old, as they shouldn't be in the direct sunlight until about six months (my 9-week old stays in the shade).

ICBINEG Thu 09-May-13 13:04:28

time taken to burn with sunscreen on = amount of time without *SPF

This assumes you have it perfectly applied....so you do need to reapply if sweating/in and out of water etc.

So If I would burn in about 5 mins currently (realistic for me), then with factor 50 on I will be burnt after about 4 hours. You cannot extend this time by reapplying!

When I was in Brazil briefly I burned after 1 hour with factor 50 on (between 9 and 10 am - bastard sun), indicating that I would have burnt in 60 seconds without it....

ICBINEG Thu 09-May-13 13:05:36

I thought suncream was not advised at all for under 6 months...something to do with skin porosity?

BedHanger Thu 09-May-13 13:08:17

Wilson, vit D is fat soluble so yes, full fat milk is a better source. Also, if you leave mushrooms in the sun for an hour before you prep them they will synthesise vitamin d for you!

badguider Thu 09-May-13 13:08:36

icbineg you must really be at the far "fair" end of the spectrum of skin types if you burn in 5mins in the uk.
I still say 'most' people can take at least half an hour (I can and I'm blonde and fair).

BedHanger Thu 09-May-13 13:08:58

Agree ICBINERG, that's what I thought.

BedHanger Thu 09-May-13 13:10:46

Sorry, ICBINEG (is that an acronym?)

ICBINEG Thu 09-May-13 13:11:06

yes that is true...

but you aren't actually aiming to burn! If you could stay out for 30 mins and only just be burned, then you should only be staying out 5 mins... so by wearing factor 20 you are extending from 5 mins safely to 1.5 hours safely...which isn't that much really. So for you, factor 50 is a good number to cover you all day...and not ridiculous at all.

ICBINEG Thu 09-May-13 13:11:53

it is both true that I am at the far fair end and that ICBINEG is an acronym...I really should address my comments to people more smile

ICBINEG Thu 09-May-13 13:13:07

Yes I am pretty confident that you are not supposed to use sunscreen on baby skin unless it is totally unavoidable that your baby be exposed to UV. Ie. in the UK it shouldn't be used...in other places it may be impossible not to.

BedHanger Thu 09-May-13 13:13:28

I always read your nn as "iceberg" confused

ICBINEG Thu 09-May-13 13:14:40

I have been called worse on MN grin

Remotecontrolduck Thu 09-May-13 13:19:09

DD and I have pale freckly skin, moles and red hair so pretty much as high risk for skin cancer/burning as you can get.

I use factor 25 before I go out if it's a sunny day, and re-apply once or twice in the day depending on how hot it is. I usually find that keeps me from burning and i go about my day as normal without giving it much more thought. DD the same, when she was younger I used factor 40 though. I don't believe being OTT about any health issue is a good idea.

What confuses me is the advice that is given out to 'stay out if the sun and seek shade between 10-4pm' you what? How is any one supposed to do that? I don't think that's particularly practical advice.

Mumsyblouse Thu 09-May-13 13:21:05

The problem with Vit D supplements is that almost no-one takes them, if you want to cover an entire population. I think they are recommended for children or in pregnancy, or have I got that wrong?

But some people are really daft about sitting out in the sun. Those people don't use sunscreen properly anyway.

So- we have lots of people who ignore sunscreen/want to be brown/get caught out vs lots of people who would never take supplements (could they go into semi-skimmed milk as an added component?) Which is worse- hard to know and that's why I will be interested to know what these epidemiogical studies show.

I know it's very emotive for people who have lost loved ones to skin cancer, so it is easy to comprehend (skin burnt=skin cancer)- trying to link lack of Vit D with say MS or other types of cancer is harder, but worth doing because people should know if they avoid the sun and don't supplement, they may be at risk through Vid D deficiency and the evidence is stacking up.

Mumsyblouse Thu 09-May-13 13:24:54

'stay out if the sun and seek shade between 10-4pm' I interpret that a bit differently, as be normal (e.g. in and out of work, shops, sit out for 10 min) during the hot part of the day but don't sit out in the sun sunbathing during that time. And, if you go somewhere without shade, say the beach, take an umbrella and the children can run in and out of it (with sunscreen on).

I don't sunscreen my children for small journeys, anything less than 20 min, and we don't go on the beach/very hot places 12-3pm if no shade, so they never really get burnt.

I do sometimes think why do people go on the beach in the middle of the day on a very hot day, cover their children with sunscreen sit in a tent and have them wear long hats/shorts/t-shirts- why don't they go home, have a nice nap and then come out a bit later in the day, say 3ish when the beach is always gorgeous and you don't have to stress about the whole sun protection thing.

chillinwithmyyonis Thu 09-May-13 13:30:55

IMO, op, YANBU. Sunburn may put one at increased risk of malignant melanoma however, from my laymans research on vitamin d, vit d offers a degree of protection against all types of cancer and much more besides. And I think sun = skin cancer is a bit too simplistic, we certainly don't apply similar rationale to other types of cancer. Not to mention that many malignant melanomas are in parts of the body that never see the sun.

I personally stopped wearing sunscreen about 5/6 years ago, I try to go in the sun whenever I can. I'm aware I'm taking a risk but I feel the risk of being vitamin d deficient is far greater. The seesaw of life!

racmun Thu 09-May-13 13:31:09

Can someone clarify if you put say factor 50 cream on does it mean that the benefits of the sun don't get through?

I'd thought that because it was a chemical rather than a physical barrier and your skin is still getting the sun on it that you'd get the benefits but not the burning.

Does anyone know this is right?


itsblackoveryonderhill Thu 09-May-13 13:33:47

I agree to a certain extent. Some sun is required, but generally, when it's sunny its cover up time or sun lotion.

It can get to be absolute madness thought, for example, in DD's nursery they were putting suncream on the children on Monday morning and in walks a parent with their child. Their child has very dark african/caribbean skin and the carers in the nursery asked the mother if 'X' had had suncream on already.

She said no and the carers looked a bit aghast and said that he would need some on. Well, in principle that would be fine, but firstly the child is already dark skinned, they stay indoors from 10.30/11 until 3/4pm, so the poor child would in all probability would have not got any sun rays penetrating his skin through the factor 30 they put on, so would be at a greater risk of vit D deficiency that skin cancer or at least sunburn.

I put sun cream on DD when I feel it is required (boots soltan once factor 30) and I tell the carers when I've done it and I don't allow them to put any more on her. She is mixed race (white/afro caribbean) and she darkens very easily, so towards the end of the summer when she's at her darkest is the time I say, 'no cream today', but please bring her into the shade if she looks as though she is getting burnt. I also ensure DD has light floaty clothes with 3/4 sleeves and legs etc, so some skin is exposed to allow her to get rays through on to her skin.

ICBINEG Thu 09-May-13 13:46:46

racmum factor 50 sun cream blocks 98% of the majority of the UV bits of sunlight.

So any health benefit that derives from the UV fraction of sunlight will also be reduced. If the health benefits come from the visible or IR than you will still get them.

The amount of UV you need to be healthy depends on your skin type. The skin is actually blocking UV by different amounts. Dark skin is adapted to work in bright light conditions and hence blocks most of the UV, and hence you need a lot of UV to make enough vit D.

My skin is adapted to very low light conditions, so I need a tiny amount of sunlight to make enough vit D and burn very easily.

I can get that UV either in a 1 min burst on untreated skin or in a 1 hour burst on factor 50 treated skin.

Someone with dark skin might need hours and hours in the UK sun to make enough vit D and might never burn.

chillinwithmyyonis Thu 09-May-13 13:48:30

racmun, sunscreen blocks UVB rays to the skin, its these rays that stimulate the production of vitamin d (which is more akin to a hormone, a natural steriod, than a vitamin), so especially high factor sunscreen will inhibit the bodies ability to produce vitamin d.

ICBINEG Thu 09-May-13 13:51:54

That wasn't very clear of me. What I am trying to say is that your skin already contains sun screen molecules, that may easily exceed the factor 50 of synthetic compounds currently available.

Regarding the health benefits of UV light, it doesn't matter if it is your skin that is blocking the UV or a synthetic compound...what matters is the amount getting through should hit the sweet spot between 'not enough' and 'damaging'.

That might be impossible to achieve if you are living in a dimmer climate than your skin type was evolved for.

JazzDalek Thu 09-May-13 14:03:58

Also, if you leave mushrooms in the sun for an hour before you prep them they will synthesise vitamin d for you!

Really! Have you a link for that? Not being sarky, genuinely would like to read more as have never heard this.

OP, yanbu.

SacreBlue Thu 09-May-13 14:06:18

I think you can be as careful as you like and something will still get you cue everyone who was warning about that to say I told you so

You wear what SPF or cover up you are happy with. I haven't and won't <needs sunglasses emoticon> I am not a child, I am not 'ill-informed', I have made a choice to sit out in the sun because I like it smile

Of course people have died of cancer, or lost pieces of themselves or loved ones - you can say the same of nearly every single disease or happening in the history of the world.

We live as we choose and take the consequences but I am not going to waste whatever sun hastened life I have worrying about it.

Stress kills people too <sticks out tongue> wink

racmun Thu 09-May-13 14:10:28

Ok thanks for clarifying. It's a case of enough but not too much. My ds is so pale his skin has a blue tinge so From what you guys have said he doesn't need much sun exposure to produce vit d.
Even with cream on every sunny day last year he still ended up with a t shirt Tan but never burnt.

I'm hoping from what you've all said that means he's getting enough but not too much!!

ThatRuddyAbyssinian Thu 09-May-13 14:11:32

Like Remotecontrolduck I have red hair, freckles and moles so the highest risk category for skin cancer. My skin is made for Nordic climates so anything less than 25SPF just isn't sufficient. Again, never had a Vit D problem. But it's so hard to know if your skin is not as fair, or somewhere being fair-not fair.

I read somewhere that wearing sunglasses is bad for your skin as wearing them fools your mind into thinking it's not that sunny, so your body doesn't produce natural hormones that give 'some' protection against sun. Or something. Not sure that's correct though. confused

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