A close approximation of sunbathing.
A close approximation of sunbathing.

Study: Avoiding Sunshine Will Kill You

Lack of vitamin D just as bad as skin cancer

A close approximation of sunbathing.

Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. This is the takeaway from a new 20-year, 30,000-person Swedish study that claims not getting enough sun might be just as likely to kill you as getting too much. As it turns out, you need vitamin D as much as you don’t need skin cancer.

According to researchers at the Karolinska Institute, state-sponsored advisories telling people to stay indoors and to wear plenty of sunscreen if they do venture into the hell-void of the outdoors could be doing more harm by depriving populations of an essential nutrient. Vitamin D, which is created in the body through exposure to sunshine, is known to keep conditions such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and rickets at bay. Without it, it’s open season. “The results of this study clearly showed that mortality was about double in women who avoided sun exposure compared to the highest exposure group,” said lead study author Dr. Pelle Lindqvist. “The mortality rate was increased twofold among avoiders of sun exposure.”

The study followed 29,518 women, recruited between 1990 and 1992, and asked them to record their sunbathing habits. Of the 2,545 deaths that occurred over the study’s 20-year arc, researchers were surprised to discover that the death rate was twice as high (three in 100 compared to 1.5 in 100) in women who actively avoided sun exposure.

A spokesperson for Public Health England told the Telegraph that they would take the data into consideration when making their next public health recommendation. “Public Health England constantly reviews scientific research, and our experts will consider this paper along with other peer-reviewed research into this issue as part of that process,” they said.

So grab a towel and go outside. Or don’t. The world is a death trap.

Filed to:

promo logo