JAN 18, 2022 6:00 AM PST

More Sun, Reduced Breast Cancer Risk

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandes

Besides being a mood booster, spending time in the sun is known to have a number of health benefits. For example, the skin responds to sunlight exposure by producing vitamin D for strong bones. A new study by University at Buffalo researchers suggests that the sun may also help protect against disease. The researchers found that women who spent more time in the sun had a lower risk of breast cancer.

Breast cancer starts when cells (often those lining milk ducts) become malignant and behave abnormally by dividing rapidly and invading surrounding tissues. If caught early, strategies to treat and manage breast cancer—chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation—can improve patient outcomes. Still, in 2020, 2.3 million women worldwide were diagnosed with the disease, and 685,000 lost their lives to the cancer.

A group of researchers led by Jo L. Freudenheim set about investigating how year-round high sun exposure influenced the risk of developing breast cancer. This study responded to some previous reports indicating an association between the two factors.

The team conducted a population-based study of women in metropolitan San Juan, Puerto Rico. In this part of the world, UV radiation levels remain consistently high throughout the year, not fluctuating with the seasons as they do in other geographies. The scientists used chromameters, devices used to measure color, to quantify pigmentation differences between sun-exposed and non-exposed skin in the women. They also gave the study participants a questionnaire to determine other breast cancer risk factors.

“We found lower risk of breast cancer associated with greater sun exposure in a population living with high, continuous sun exposure,” wrote the authors.

According to Freudenheim, there are several potential physiological mechanisms that may explain these findings.

“One step in the internal production of vitamin D occurs when skin is exposed to sun,” explained Freudenheim. “Sun exposure also affects the body in a number of other helpful ways, with effects on inflammation, obesity, and circadian rhythms.”

A previous study by researchers at the Northern California Cancer Center found that women with high sun exposure had half the risk of developing advanced breast cancer compared to those who stayed out of the sun. In this report, however, the researchers observed more pronounced risk reduction among light-skinned women, potentially as women with darker skin tend to produce lower vitamin D levels for the same amount of sun exposure.

About the Author
PhD
Interested in health technology and innovation.
You May Also Like
MAR 08, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
Using a Smartphone to Test Blood
MAR 08, 2022
Using a Smartphone to Test Blood
Warfarin is an anti-coagulant prescribed to people with various heart conditions and those who have experienced or ...
APR 07, 2022
Cardiology
Resistance Exercise Leads to Better Sleep
APR 07, 2022
Resistance Exercise Leads to Better Sleep
A new study suggests that resistance exercise is best for getting a good night's rest.
APR 12, 2022
Cardiology
What Happens During a Heart Attack?
APR 12, 2022
What Happens During a Heart Attack?
Knowing could save your life.
APR 24, 2022
Plants & Animals
Mediterranean Diet Reduces Risk of Preeclampsia in Pregnant Women
APR 24, 2022
Mediterranean Diet Reduces Risk of Preeclampsia in Pregnant Women
In recent years, the idea that the Mediterranean diet is a healthy lifestyle option has become increasingly clear. Compr ...
MAY 02, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
A Lyme Disease Vaccine Could be Available Soon
MAY 02, 2022
A Lyme Disease Vaccine Could be Available Soon
There is currently no vaccine available to prevent Lyme disease, a tick-borne illness prevalent across the United States ...
MAY 10, 2022
Immunology
A Failed Immunotherapy Trial Leads to a Crucial Discovery
MAY 10, 2022
A Failed Immunotherapy Trial Leads to a Crucial Discovery
Immunotherapies, which boost a patient's immune system so it's better at fighting cancer, have been a game-chang ...
Loading Comments...