You can take a number of different precautions to prevent colon cancer, but according to brand new study, there’s one that may sound counterintuitive to what you’ve been told: Getting some sun this summer.
When it comes to the great outdoors, you’re probably aware that there are two types of sun rays to look out for: UVA and UVB. Despite sounding very similar, they can cause different harm to your body over time. Ultraviolet A rays are responsible for speeding up skin aging, while ultraviolet B rays are what burn your skin. Prolonged sun exposure with inadequate protection can potentially lead to skin cancer, but on the flip side, it may lower your risk of colon cancer along the way.
Researchers at the University of California San Diego looked at global levels of UVB light in 2017 and then observed the different rates of colon cancer among people in 148 countries over the following year. They took into account participants’ ages, skin pigmentations, life expectancies, and several lifestyle factors, such as if they smoked and their alcohol consumption. Interestingly, they discovered that people who didn’t get as much UVB ray exposure saw higher rates of colon cancer, especially people ages 45 and older.
Does that mean you should be throwing out your sunscreen to get enough UVB rays? Definitely not. Should you be going outside more often? Perhaps. But scientists are quick to point out that they need to do a lot more research on the subject. However, they do believe their results point to larger vitamin D deficiencies among older people that may be contributing to colon cancer risk. In that case, it may be time to talk to your doctor about your own vitamin D intake and if including it in your daily regimen would give you the key nutrients you’d get from going outside more.
In the meantime, keep wearing sunscreen, hats, and cover-ups when you’re heading out!