The study has now prompted calls for people to get a regular dose of sunshine.
“I am advocating only very small amounts of sunshine. Wanton sunbathing or foolish sunbed use is potentially dangerous and large doses lead to the risk of skin ageing and cancer,” the Daily Express quoted Professor John Hawk, who has been studying the benefits of sunlight, as saying.
“Large amounts may also be counterproductive to such protective mechanisms.
“The rate of skin cancer is still increasing rapidly in northern Europe due to too much sun and sunbed exposure. It is important to remember to cover up and use high protection sunscreens in the midday sun,” he said.
Studies conducted earlier found some Britons are lacking in vitamin D, which is produced by the action of sunlight on the skin and is essential for bone and muscle health.
Just five to 30 minutes of sunlight exposure every day is enough to provide most people with the vitamin D they need but long-term daily exposure is thought to increase the risk of skin cancers.
“Small amounts of sunlight may protect us against a number of skin conditions, including such allergic reactions as prickly heat, psoriasis, and skin allergies to cosmetics, metals, perfumes and even garden flowers,” Professor Hawk said.
“There is also some new evidence suggesting sunlight may boost the immune system to help resist bacterial infections,” he added.
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