It’s important to note that this journal is one of the top-ranked dermatology journals in the world, established in 1888, publishing high quality papers to advance the understanding and management of skin. In other words, these people are serious. This does, however, challenge all we have been taught, and for people like us, who live in the sunshine, we better take note of what they have to say.

Confused? You will be

The report goes on to say, “Despite all the bad press linking sun exposure to skin cancer, there’s almost no evidence at all to support it. There is, however, plenty of evidence to the contrary. Over the years, several studies have confirmed that appropriate sun exposure actually helps prevent skin cancer.

Vitamin D helps protect you against cancer

Before you reach for another container of factor 50, think about what this report says about the power of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is a steroid hormone that influences virtually every cell in your body, and is easily one of nature’s most potent cancer fighters. They stress that if you are shunning all sun exposure, you are missing out on this natural cancer protection. I did warn you this is going to challenge all your original conceptions about exposure to the sun.

A brief walk around your local cosmetics counter and you will see an abundance of sun protection creams, make up and face cream, and all shouting loudly about the strength of their protection against the danger of the sun. If this report is correct, it’s certainly going to upset the manufacturers of sun protection in all its forms.

What do other specialists say?

Everything gets more confusing if you look at what other specialists are saying. The American Cancer Society says “Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays is a major risk factor for most melanomas. Sunlight is the main source of UV rays

The cancer association goes on to say: “The pattern and timing of the UV exposure may play a role in melanoma development. For example, melanoma on the chest and back and legs has been linked to frequent sunburns (especially in childhood). This might also have something to do with the fact that these areas aren't constantly exposed to UV light. Some evidence suggests that melanomas that start in these areas are different from those that start on the face, neck, and arms, where the sun exposure is more constant. And different from either of these are melanomas on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, or under the nails or on internal surfaces such as the mouth where there has been little or no sun exposure”.

Melanoma can occur in areas not exposed to the sun

Spending time in the sun without protection increases the risk of melanoma, but the potentially deadly skin cancer can occur even on sites with minimal sun exposure, doctors warn. “Melanomas can occur anywhere on the body, not only in areas that get a lot of sun,” Dr. Kucy Pon told Reuters Health. She said the most common site in men is the back, while for women it is the leg.


Resident in Portugal for 50 years, publishing and writing about Portugal since 1977. Privileged to have seen, firsthand, Portugal progress from a dictatorship (1974) into a stable democracy. 

Paul Luckman