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02/28/17   |   By

The Dangers of Not Getting Enough Sunlight During the Winter and How to Manage Them

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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;
  • Insomnia.

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.

Regan Zambri Long
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