Sunbathers Live Longer Than Those Who Avoid the Sun, Study Finds

Women who sunbathe are likely to live longer than those who avoid the sun.

Women who sunbathe are likely to live longer than those who avoid the sun.

Considering sunbathers are at an increased risk of developing skin cancer, this finding would seem to be quite the paradox, right?

A study, recently published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, analyzed data from 29,518 women who were followed for 20 years.

The research revealed that the longer life expectancy among women with “active sun exposure habits” was directly related to a decrease in heart disease and non-cancer/non-heart disease deaths.

Compared to the patients in the highest sun exposure group, the life expectancy of those who avoided sun exposure was reduced by 0.6 — 2.1 years.

Due to their increased survival, the relative contribution of cancer death also increased in these patients.

Pelle Lindqvist, MD, lead author of the study, said in a news release, “We found smokers in the highest sun exposure group were at a similar risk as non-smokers avoiding sun exposure, indicating avoidance of sun exposure to be a risk factor of the same magnitude as smoking. Guidelines being too restrictive regarding sun exposure may do more harm than good for health.”

The findings, however, were unclear whether the positive effect of sun exposure was mediated by vitamin D or by unmeasured bias — warranting further research.