Health benefits of a sun tan

While enjoying outdoor activities or at tanning salons, getting a sun tan was just one of many things we did through countless years of human history that we thought was completely normal and benign.

Apparently we were wrong, we were so wrong.

sun tan
This movie was such a disappointment

But thankfully now we know better, for the last thirty some years we know that the sun is our enemy. It’s rays are apparently a huge cosmic danger, a catastrophic emission from space which threatens mankind as a whole!

Thankfully we came to the realization before it was too late. To protect us from the dangerous UV rays and getting a sun tan, we now have a plethora of carcinogenic creams and oils that we slather on our skin to prevent cancer… Wait that doesn’t sound right… at all…

WHY YOU SHOULD WANT TO GET A SUN TAN

Let’s check the facts. In the words of Reuters health editor, less than 0.3% (less than a third percent) of people develop melanoma, and that includes people that regularly visit sun tanning salons (Oransky, 2010).

What do we do? Well in a media fueled (and skin care industry due to profits) panic, to prevent something, that is statistically less likely to happen then lets say a woman dying during birth in a first world country, we douse our skin with oxybenzone, which is associated with hormonal imbalances and call damage which can lead to skin cancer and retinyl palmitaze.

Something that can accelerate the development of skin tumors and skin lesions after they are applied on to the skin in the presence of sunlight (Dellorto, 2014). Is it just me or does that seems counter productive?

But your sunscreen doesn’t have these chemicals right, so no worries. Will… Environmental Working Group says that only 25% creams out of 800 tested sunscreens that don’t have these chemicals are effective at protecting your skin.

But that’s not enough, people like to go a step further. Usually the same people who slather their skin in carcinogenic sunscreens almost zealously go out of their way to avoid the sun. Something which in turns limits their vitamin D production.

Studies have shown that melanoma patients who were subjected to sunlight have a better odds of survival (Rosso, 2008) and the people with the highest concentration of vitamin D in the blood had the thinnest melanoma (they are easier to cure), the highest chance of survival and the lowest chance of developing melanoma (Caini, 2004).

Basically its healthier to have a sun tan, than to look like milk. But the benefits don’t end there.

Being outside in the sun promotes bone strength and density, prevents and cures tuberculosis, lowers the risk of death of breast, ovarian, pancreatic, colon and certain other cancers. 

It also lowers the risk for multiple sclerosis, metabolic and cardiovascular disaster, as well as high blood pressure (Mead, 2008).

On top of It also helps with mood disorders and energy levels. Sunlight boosts levels of the serotonin and dopamine (Tsai, Chen Yang, Chen, Yeh, Chiu, Lee, 2011). Both are neurotransmitters, which are important for mental health.

Serotonin improves mood, and lower levels of it are found in people who suffer from SAD as in seasonal affective disorder, while dopamine is pivotal to motivation, creativity and sexual desire.

BUT TANNING SALONS ARE DIFFERENT, RIGHT?

So let’s say you don’t live near the equator or that it’s winter, how do you deal with this problem?

You can either supplement it with vitamin D3 capsules, or you can visit one of the cancer producing factories aka sun tan salons.

But I’m not serious am I, we all know the dangers and threats of tanning salons… Right?

Turns out those threats are empty, just like a jar of peanut butter if you leave it near me.

sun tan
Case in point

In a study conducted by Moan, the results ended up more than convincing. The advantage you get from higher vitamin D blood concentration outweighs all the potential risks, you would supposedly subject yourself with exposing your skin to more UV rays.

The study took into account 106 thousand women and the results were as follows. Less than 0.3% percent of women who regulator visited tanning salons developed melanoma, compared to 0.2% of women who developed melanoma despite not going.

Which means that a statistically insignificant number was replaced with a little less insignificant. (Veierød, 2003).

But the fact that isn’t mentioned in the study are the other health benefits that come due to higher blood concentrations of vitamin D due to visiting said tanning salons.

Although I admittedly don’t visit tanning salons, my gym happens to have a couple of tanning beds.

So in the winter time i like to kill two birds with one stone, I do my workout and after that i hit the tanning booth, to get a little energy and a mental boost, especially after an intensive workout.

You could also reverse the order, drink your pre-workout, get in the booth and after that, smash the weights right as the PWO starts to kick in. Trust me, If you have the option try it.

CONCLUSION

The sun is not our enemy, I repeat it is not our enemy.

Far from it, but that doesn’t mean you should lay in the sun during the whole day, and get third degree burns to resemble and feel like a cooked lobster.

As with any thing in life, the key is in moderation, be smart about sun exposure, and reap the benefits of having a sun tan. Aesthetic and health wise.

 

REFERENCES:

  1. Oransky, Ivan. Tanning beds: What do the numbers really mean? Association of Health Care Journalists. 7 May 2010. Web. 6 Aug 2014. http://healthjournalism.org/blog/2010/05/tanning-beds-what-do-the-numbers-really-mean/
  2. Dellorto, Danielle. Avoid sunscreens with potentially harmful ingredients, group warns. CNN. 16 May 2012. Web. 6 Aug 2014. http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/16/health/sunscreen-report/
  3. http://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/the-problem-with-vitamin-a/
  4. Rosso S, Sera F, Segnan N, Zanetti R. Sun exposure prior to diagnosis is associated with improved survival in melanoma patients: results from a long-term follow-up study of Italian patients. Eur J Cancer. 2008 Jun;44(9):1275-81. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18406602
  5. Caini S, Boniol M, Tosti G, Magi S, Medri M, Stanganelli I, Palli D, Assedi M, Marmol VD, Gandini S. Vitamin D and melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer risk and prognosis: A comprehensive review and meta-analysis. Eur J Cancer. 2014 Jul 30. pii: S0959-8049(14)00806 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25087185
  6. Mead MN. Benefits of sunlight: a bright spot for human health. Environ Health Perspect. 2008 Apr;116(4):A160-7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2290997/
  7. Tsai, H. Y., Chen, K. C., Yang, Y. K., Chen, P. S., Yeh, T. L., Chiu, N. T., & Lee, I. H. (2011). Sunshine-exposure variation of human striatal dopamine D 2/D 3 receptor availability in healthy volunteers.Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry35(1), 107-110. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278584610003659
  8. Veierød MB, Weiderpass E, Thörn M, Hansson J, Lund E, Armstrong B, Adami HO. A prospective study of pigmentation, sun exposure, and risk of cutaneous malignant melanoma in women. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2003 Oct 15;95(20):1530-8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14559875

 

 

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Author: Ivan Vlahinić

I am not a scientist. But i don’t have to be a scientist to be able to deftly use the scientific method in your daily life. In fact, you can be one helluva ‘thinker’ (in the scientific sense) and not be a scientist. For instance, nutritionists and personal trainers like me, who use and embrace science and the scientific method are better trainers because of it. Why? Because rather than just being a parrot and telling my clients what to do, because that’s what I have been told when I was younger I understand the "why" of my advice. And if I dont? Then I fully admit that i don't, and that's fine. The more you learn in the field of fitness and nutrition, the more you realize there is a lot of stuff that you dont know. But this is something that is true of all fields of work or life. The scientific method is the single most powerful way of thinking, that's why I embrace it. Anecdotes are nice, but data and facts trumps anecdotes.

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