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New health advice on midday sunshine

17th December 2010

New health guidance has been issued to help people get more vitamin D from natural sunlight.

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It now recommends people spend short periods in the sun without suncream and in the middle of the day.

Vitamin D is a nutrient that helps keeps bones strong and protects against conditions such as osteoporosis.

Cancer Research UK and the National Osteoporosis Society are among seven organisations which says spells in the summer sun have health benefits.

Cancer Research UK's chief clinician, Professor Peter Johnson, said: "A good diet and sensible sun exposure will be adequate for the great majority of the UK population to minimise their cancer risk.”

He added that overall, low levels of vitamin D are unlikely to be major contributors to the chances of developing cancer in the UK population.

Professor Rona Mackie, from the British Association of Dermatologists, said: "Total sun protection with high factor sun cream on all the time is not ideal, in terms of vitamin D levels. Even Australia has changed its policy on this.”

Professor Mackie said some of the messages about sun exposure have been too negative and what has changed is that exposure of 10 to 15 minutes to the UK summer sun, without sun cream, several times a week is probably a safe balance between adequate vitamin D levels and any risk of skin cancer.

However, the experts acknowledge that questions about vitamin D that warrant further research such as finding out the optimal levels of vitamin D and more detail about the role of dietary sources and supplements.

 

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