Newswise — SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (July 16, 2014)Statement from Brett M. Coldiron, MD, FAADPresident, American Academy of Dermatology

Recently, a study in the Journal of Internal Medicine suggested that women who avoid sun exposure are twice as likely to die as compared to those who receive sun exposure. The study attempts to link low vitamin D levels with this increased death rate. However, even the study authors admit that this is speculation on their part.

Encouraging sun exposure to get vitamin D to try to live longer is highly irresponsible. It is a well-established fact that UV radiation from sun or indoor tanning can cause cancer and numerous studies have demonstrated that exposure to UV radiation causes DNA damage in skin cells that can lead to skin cancer (melanoma and non-melanoma). 1,2 In fact, the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine (IOM) has concluded that while evidence links a person’s vitamin D level to their bone health, the evidence linking vitamin D with other health benefits is inconsistent, inconclusive, and insufficient.3

Vitamin D can be safely and easily obtained from a healthy diet that includes foods naturally rich in vitamin D, foods/beverages fortified with vitamin D, and/or vitamin D supplemets. Because of the known side effects of UV exposure, vitamin D should not be obtained from unprotected exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation.4

For more information about sun exposure, vitamin D and skin cancer, please visit

1. Lim HW, James WD, Rigel DS, Maloney ME, Spencer JM, Bhushan R. Adverse effects of ultraviolet radiation from the use of indoor tanning equipment: time to ban the tan. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2011 May;64(5):893-902. 2. O'Leary RE, Diehl J, Levins PC. Update on tanning: More risks, fewer benefits. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014 Mar;70(3):562-8.

3. Ross AC, Manson JE, Abrams SA, Aloia JF, Brannon PM, Clinton SK, Durazo-Arvizu RA, Gallagher JC, Gallo RL, Jones G, Kovacs CS, Mayne ST, Rosen CJ, Shapses SA. The 2011 report on dietary reference intakes for calcium and vitamin D from the Institute of Medicine: what clinicians need to know. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011;96(1):53-8.

4. American Academy of Dermatology. Position Statement on Vitamin D.

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