Sunlight has health benefits, but sunscreen is needed even in winter

Letters+to+the+editor

Letters to the Editor

To the editor:

As someone who loves to be outdoors but has dealt with skin problems in my family, I have been researching sunlight and the effect it has on us for my anatomy school project.

When I surveyed 95 students at my high school, only 13 people strongly agreed that sunlight positively affects their overall health. Most people think of vitamin D production as the main positive, however, there is much more. The ultraviolet rays from the sun are known to release a hormone called serotonin. This hormone works to improve your mood; so people exposed to lower amounts of sunlight — especially during the winter — are more likely to fall into seasonal affective disorder or SAD.

With winter right around the corner, it is important for us to be getting sunlight, however, we also have to be careful. In our body we have melanin, which protects our skin by absorbing or reflecting UV rays.

Too much UV radiation can cause lesions or DNA damage to melanocytes which produce melanin. Underproduction of melanin can lead to skin cancer when we develop harsher sunburns. Too much UV radiation can also cause an overproduction of melanin leading to sunspots, moles and wrinkles.

With winter coming, it is still important to get sunlight to prevent SAD, however, it is necessary to still wear sunscreen.

Most people use sunscreen with the highest SPF, but that is not always better. SPF is not the strength of the sunscreen but the amount of time it takes for UVB rays to turn the skin red. Using a sunscreen higher than SPF 50 is not really any more effective than a lower SPF.

A sunscreen of SPF 50 is blocking 98 percent of the UVB rays where 100 SPF is only blocking 99 percent of UVB rays.

So yes, it is 1 percent more, however, when people start using higher SPF they apply less frequently, not benefitting them anymore. With only four of 95 students at my high school wearing sunscreen every time they go outside, I believe it is very important to know the effects of sunlight and the point that it is great to go outside, especially during the winter, however wearing your sunscreen could save your skin and health later in life.

Megan Schraut
Concord

Editor’s note: Megan is a senior at Lindbergh High. This was a class project.