We’ve all heard that too much sun can cause skin cancer—but did you know that not enough sun can also increase your cancer risk? Among other illnesses and side effects, a lack of sunlight can cause Vitamin D deficiency, which studies have linked to several types of cancers, according to Cancer.gov.
Vitamin D deficiency is more widespread than most people realize. Dr. Betty Kovacs Harbolic elaborates in this article from MedicineNet: “Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency is now a global public-health problem affecting an estimated 1 billion people worldwide.” This problem is most prevalent during winter months when we naturally receive less direct sunlight.
Dangers of lack of sunlight
Besides increased cancer risks as mentioned above, a lack of sunlight (more specifically, a lack of Vitamin D) has been linked to a number of ailments, such as:
- Depression (specifically, Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD);
- Weight gain;
- Lowered immunity (you get sick more often);
- Increased risk for heart disease;
- Increased risk for dementia;
What you can do
Since most of the negative effects of getting too little sun can be traced to a Vitamin D deficiency, taking steps to increase your Vitamin D levels will reduce your risks. For example:
- Eating foods rich in Vitamin D, like salmon, egg yolks and fortified milk/juice/cereal;
- Taking a Vitamin D supplement (in moderation—too much Vitamin D can be toxic!);
- Cutting back on the sunscreen;
- Getting direct sunlight when possible (15-20 minutes per day is sufficient);
- For more extreme deficiencies, a dermatologist might recommend light therapy treatments.
For more information on winter safety, see our Checklist for Winter Weather Preparation.
If you believe you’ve been a victim of medical error or malpractice, talk to our Washington D.C. medical malpractice attorneys to discuss your options.