The sun is here! For the first time in several years, much of the UK seems set for a proper spell of summer weather.

Sunshine helps us feel good and allows our bodies to make vitamin D that is important for the health of our bones and for helping to prevent heart disease and cancers. But too much exposure to sunlight brings dangers.

A recent publication* from the Office of National Statistics shows an increase in cancers in the UK and draws particular attention to skin cancer. Between 2002 and 2011, malignant skin cancer increased by 56% in males and 38% in females. It is thought this might be due to sunbathing and the use of sunbeds.

The daily use of a good sunscreen helps protect your skin from prolonged exposure to the ultraviolet (UV) light that induces skin cancer. This can literally save your life.

What you might not realise is that daily use of a sunscreen can also protect your skin from ageing processes and keep it looking younger. This has been demonstrated in a recent, timely, study** carried out in Australia.

This study followed 900 middle-aged adults for over 4 years in a controlled trial and compared a group who used sunscreen daily with a group who decided themselves if and when they used sunscreen. Some of the participants also took beta-carotene tablets – an antioxidant that some people take to lessen skin ageing – while others took a placebo for comparison.

The researchers used an established method for assessing skin ageing, and showed that skin ageing was reduced by 24% in the regular users of sunscreen. They found no benefit from taking the antioxidant tablets.

Enormous amounts of money are spent each year by people trying to keep their skin looking young. Some of these commercial products are effective, but many are expensive and can be of dubious merit.

It is good to have evidence that something as simple and easily available as sunscreen used daily can make a significant difference to skin ageing.

And it should reduce your risk of skin cancer too.


*Cancer statistics


**Link to the study: Ann Intern Med.

**Link to a summary:

© 2012 How to Live to 110 Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha