I am sure everyone knows someone who has been diagnosed with skin cancer.  One in five American will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime. 1 It is important this summer to take steps in protecting the only skin you have against the sun, while still enjoying the outdoors and absorbing important vitamin D from the sun. About 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.2   The Environmental Working Group puts out a sunscreen guide every year to help determine, which are the safest choices.  Check out for yourself how your sunscreen holds up: http://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/.

When not wearing sunscreen:

  1. Cover up. Wear shirts, sunglasses, hats, shorts, and pants to shield your skin from the sun’s UV rays.
  2. Find shade during the day.
  3. Plan around the sun. Go outdoors early in the morning or late afternoon when the sun’s rays are not as intense.
  4. Don’t get burned. If you are red, blistered, or sore you have exposed your skin to too much sun.
  5. Check the UV index. Prior to planning activities outdoors check the UV index that day to prevent overexposure.

If you follow the above rules you don’t always have to turn to sunscreen first.  The best way to get vitamin D if from the sun.  You can be safe and still absorb the very important vitamin that is crucial for optimal health.  Enjoy the summer and stay well!

by Melanie Dockter, DC, CACCP


  1. Robinson, JK. Sun exposure, sun protection, and vitamin D. JAMA2005; 294:1541-43.
  2. Koh HK, Geller AC, Miller DR, Grossbart TA, Lew RA. Prevention and early detection strategies for melanoma and skin cancer: Current status. Arch Dermatol1996; 132(4):436-442.