3. There's more than just melanoma to worry about when it comes to sun exposure. Dermatologists disagree, as the Indoor Tanning Association campaign suggests, about whether ultraviolet light exposure directly causes melanoma. Other factors, such as a person's genetics or exposures to chemicals in the environment, may also play a role. Though melanoma often commands the most attention, squamous cell carcinoma, another type of skin cancer that is definitely caused by overexposure to ultraviolet light, accounts for about a third of the fatalities associated with skin cancer, warns David Fisher, an oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Furthermore, dermatologists warn that treatment for nonlethal types of skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma, can be disfiguring. Finally, there's no dispute that sun exposure causes wrinkling, drying, and other signs of aging skin.
4. Just a few minutes will do it. Many dermatologists, such as Boston University's Barbara Gilchrest, are quick to point out that, for fair skinned people in Boston, no more than five minutes of sun exposure during a sunny June day is often all that's needed to get enough vitamin D. In fact, she says, production of the vitamin often peaks and ceases after just a few minutes of sunlight exposure, after which only damage occurs. During the winter, however, she recommends taking a supplement; at latitudes greater than about 35 degrees, the light isn't intense enough for the body to produce any vitamin D.
Tomorrow: Men Need to Look f or Skin Cancer Before It Spreads