If you’ve seen the many recent headlines claiming that “sunlight may prevent cancer,” you probably wonder if the world isn’t going crazy. Sun exposure causes skin cancer, so how can this be? There is indeed some research showing that a small amount of sun exposure may reduce the risk of certain cancers, as well as help keep bones strong. But you don’t need to spend lots of time in the sun and expose yourself to all the known dangers of the sun to get the potential benefits.
Researchers have found that mortality rates for some cancers ”notably breast, colon, ovarian, and prostate” tend to be lower in sunnier regions. And some studies have found that people who get little or no sun exposure tend to have higher rates of breast and colon cancer. Why? Since sunlight’s ultraviolet-B radiation is responsible for producing vitamin D in the body, researchers have wondered if this could be the connection.