Is sunshine OK as long as I don’t get sunburned?

Sunshine serves a critical function in the body that sunscreen appears to inhibit -- producing vitamin D. The hormone is enormously important. It strengthens bones and the immune system and reduces the risk of breast, colon, kidney and ovarian cancers, and perhaps other disorders.

Getting too much sun can increase your risk of skin cancer, even if you don't get sunburned. Ultraviolet (UV) light in sunshine damages the DNA in your skin cells. (DNA is the coding that tells cells how to reproduce.) If the DNA is damaged, the cells may produce cancer cells instead of healthy ones. Since it is not known exactly how much sunshine is safe, many experts, including those at the National Cancer Institute, recommend the following precautions:

  • Always use sunscreen when you are outdoors. Look for a sunscreen that is "broad spectrum," which means it gives protection against both UVB and UVA rays.
  • Wear a long-sleeve shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses when you are outdoors.
  • Even with clothing and sunscreen to protect you, do not stay in the sun for long periods of time. Avoid sun exposure especially during midday, when UV rays are the strongest. 

Use a sunscreen and wear protective clothing to safeguard your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Even without sunburn, too much sun can cause skin to age faster and develop early wrinkles, sagging, and brown “age spots.”  Watch the animation to learn more about protecting your skin from the sun.

Continue Learning about Effect Of Sun On Skin

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.