In a provocative paper, Professor Hartmut Glossmann of the University of Innsbruck in Austria recommends that the elderly expose themselves to moderate regular sun exposure as often as possible during seasons when the sun is high in the sky.
He bases his recommendation on numerous studies showing sun exposure extends life and helps prevent numerous diseases. In the winter and early spring, he recommends vitamin D supplementation at more northern latitudes. He reports that sunshine is associated with less “multiple sclerosis, bronchial asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, colon cancer, hypertension, type 1 and 2 diabetes, cardiovascular events, frailty, muscle weakness, and pelvic floor disease, anemia in kidney disease, depression and more.”
He recommends the elderly avoid sunburns, cover their head and face with a brimmed hat, applying sunscreen to their face and hands but otherwise expose as much skin as possible to sunlight.
He dismisses the risk of malignant melanoma, pointing out that, “The multiple melanoma risk increases with intermittent sun exposure but is surprisingly largely uninfluenced by latitude or ambient UV-B radiation,” adding “There is no evidence that the aging population is in danger of malignant melanoma from moderate (regular) sun exposure or that sunscreen protects against malignant melanoma.”
He points out that the people from Greece, Italy, and Spain disappear to the beach every August but the incidence of malignant melanoma in those countries is “several fold lower than in (cloudy) Britain.” He also points out the “melanoma epidemic” is a false epidemic as the death rate from melanoma has not changed in 30 years and that those with higher vitamin D levels have better prognosis if they do contract it.
Other things Professor Glossmann highlights:
- Melanoma is associated with lower incidence of internal cancers such as lung cancer.
- “Non melanoma skin cancer’s mortality is – to a large extent – due to cancers ‘where the sun does not shine,’ especially in women, namely the genitals, indicating a possible involvement of the papilloma virus.”
- If you are diagnosed with a basal cell carcinoma of the skin, “you are going to live longer, by about 9%”
Like another recent author, he feels that you cannot replace UV radiation with a pill, saying “UV irradiance can locally increase a perplexing variety of hormones, peptides, and cytokines . . . indicating that there are many activities of natural sunlight extending beyond vitamin D.”
This is why I sunbath in the summer and use a UVB or low pressure full-spectrum sunlight-like sunbeds in the winter, only supplementing on the days I do neither. I do not fear sunburn with moderate exposure as my 25(OH)D is greater than 50 ng/ml, which makes the skin less sensitive to UV radiation from either the sun or low pressure sunbeds.