Florida's nickname is the "Sunshine State" for a reason. Floridians and visitors alike, have learned to slop on the sunscreen before going outdoors, but a recent study from the Journal of Ostheopathic Association shows it might be overkill. Some doctors say *sensible sun exposure is good for adequate vitamin D production. Nearly one billion people around the world are now at risk for vitamind D deficiency.
Dr. Walter Flesner in Cape Coral says, "Most common cause of vitamin D deficiency is a lack of sun exposure and here in South Florida, you'd think that wouldn't happen but if you work like both of us do all day and sit inside and you don't get a chance to be outside then you do sometimes can have insufficient sun exposure." He adds, "You could be at increased risk for osteoporosis, for thinning of the bones and other bone disorders if you don't have the proper amount of vitamin D."
Jean Lentini and her husband moved to Cape Coral 30 years ago from New York. both of them have spent time in the sun as long as they can remember. The Lentini's have not worn sunscreen for decades. She says about her dermatologist, "He didn't say anything negative about it. He didn't say, 'No you should or you shouldn't.' I never really asked him, but he said your skin is fine and checked me all over. So, I'm fine."
Not so, says dermatologist Dr. Anais Aurora Badia at Florida Skin Center. She says, "People think 'Oh, as long as it's tan it's not a problem because i don't have a burn.' That's not true. Any tanning is damage to the skin, even if it's a nice uniform tan without any redness, it's damage to the skin." Badia warns of the high risks of cancer. She says it's now one in five people and adds, "is much greater than the risk of developing vitamin d deficiency, and vitamin d deficiency can be corrected with other sources that's not just the sun." Basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers are not life threatening. but melanoma is ... and the number of cases is going up. The Florida Society of Dermatology says the number of new cases has doubled in the last 20 years. Florida has the second most cases of melanoma,only behind California.
Some people like the Lentini's get away with a little more unprotected skin exposure. Flesner says, "Mediterranean, European patients that may have different skin types that may get away with being out in the sun for up to an hour without sunscreen, but that should be on an individualized basis," but adds " "Once you go past 30 minutes you do have to worry about the long term effects of ultra violet radiation to the skin and sun damage."
Dermatologists say the only effective way to correct sun damaged skin is with laser surgery. Dr. Badia stresses along with wearing and reapplying sunscreen, your best defense is self screening, getting your skin checked annually head to toe and avoiding the peak hours 11-to-2.