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Suntans on Children 'Are Not Healthy'

As summer blossoms into full-force, health officials in Great Britain are warning parents that suntans “are not healthy” for your children. According to BBC.com, children should cover up in the sun from March to October (northern hemisphere) and wear at least SPF15 sunscreen, with infants under 6 months old staying completely out of direct sunlight. The important thing is not to burn, BBC.com added.

While I agree that you should never stay in the sun so long that you end up with a burn, I also think the recommendation to avoid sun exposure and always use sunblock when outdoors may be the greatest public health mistake of the 20th century, if for no other reason than it is a major cause of vitamin D deficiency. The fact is, for every skin cancer death in northern Europe, 60 to 100 people die from stroke or heart disease related to hypertension — a health problem associated with vitamin D deficiency, and lack of sun exposure in particular. Also concerning is the fact that many chemical sunscreens have been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer.

On the flip side, many studies show that higher sun exposure actually protects health and increases longevity. So how do you go about getting the “right” sun exposure? The first thing you need to know is that safe exposure to sunshine is possible by understanding your skin type, the UV strength at the time of exposure and your duration of exposure: The lighter your skin, the less exposure to UV light is necessary.

Once you understand your skin type, a key guideline is to always avoid sunburn. Be particularly careful if you have not been in the sun for some time. Your first exposures of the year are the most sensitive, so limit your initial time in the sun. Also, since overexposure can result in skin damage that could raise your risk of skin cancer, it’s important to use a safe sunscreen. To that end, the Environmental Working Group ranks sunscreens based on safety and effectiveness. The Mercola brand SPF 50 sunscreen tops the 2017 list of safe and effective sunscreens and was featured in Time magazine.
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