If you want daily but brief sun exposure to get vitamin D, can this ever cause melanoma — even if you don’t burn?

This skin cancer takesk the lives of about 10,000 Americans every year.

“There are many ways to get vitamin D aside from the sun, so it’s not imperative that anyone get their vitamin D from the sun,” says Susan Weinkle, MD, a board certified dermatologist with a private practice in Bradenton, FL.

So if you’re concerned about melanoma and sun exposure, yet want your vitamin D, rest assured, there are options.

Dr. Weinkle continues, “While many experts recommend the best source of vitamin D is 10 to 15 minutes of full sun exposure, the incidence of skin cancer is on the rise.

“UV radiation from sunlight or tanning booths cause increased risks for skin cancer, including melanoma.”

Thus, the risk is increased, but daily sunshine for short periods does not guarantee future development of melanoma.

Melanoma. CDC, Carl Washington, MD, Emory Univ. School of Medicine, Mona Saraiya, MD, MPH

Other Sources of Vitamin D

You can get this micronutrient from other sources. Dr. Weinkle recommends a few safe options:

Eating foods high in this important nutrient on a daily basis.

“Vitamin D can be found in foods such as eggs, orange juice, milk, cereal, and some fish,” says Dr. Weinkle.

“In addition, food that is vitamin D-fortified will be clearly labeled and offer shoppers a variety of options.”

The other healthy alternative is that of taking a supplement.

Dr. Weinkle explains, “A variety of supplements are available without a prescription and are a fast and easy way to get vitamin D into the body.

” The most beneficial aspect of taking supplements is that the body doesn’t have to convert the vitamin for use, as it has to do with the sun’s UV rays.

“Between 200 and 600 International Units should be taken daily, depending on age.”

So if you’re concerned about melanoma … the sun is not necessary to get adequate amounts of the nutrient.

On the other hand, “It only takes a few minutes of sun exposure daily, such as the walk from the car to the grocery store, for the body to manufacture vitamin D,” says Dr. Weinkle.

If you’ve had several severe sunburns in childhood, take extra precautions when it comes to sun exposure.

This includes heading to the store to get a vitamin D supplement and/or foods rich in this nutrient, because, as Dr. Weinkle says, “Six severe sunburns (before age 18) increases possibility of melanoma by 50 percent.”

dr. weinkleA skilled surgeon with 30+ years’ experience, Dr. Weinkle is also a Fellow in the American College of Mohs Surgery. She is past President of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  



Top image: Shutterstock/Guenter Albers