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

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

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.