17/12/2010 10:00 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Some Strong Sunshine Is Good For You After All

Exactly how much sun should you be exposed to before you're increasing your chances of getting skin cancer? That's a question experts can't seem to make their mind up about, despite many believing there is an indisputable link between sun exposure and cancer. But the latest advice is that some strong sunshine - without using sunscreen - is a good thing.

Some sun may be good for you as long as you don't burn Getting some sun may be good for you - as long as you don't go red. Photo: MorgueFile, alvimann

After a few decades of advising us to cover up in the sun, experts are now backtracking. And it's all because we took their advice a little too enthusiastically. Well some of us did. And apparently it's led to an increase in vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D is made in your skin when its exposed to ultraviolet light. And there's a growing body of research that suggests a lack of vitamin D is linked to several health problems (so much so that the government recommends supplements for pregnant women, the elderly and children under the age of five). Ironically one of the health problems associated with a lack of vitamin D is thought to be an increased risk of cancer.

So what are the experts saying today? Well a group of seven organisations, including Cancer Research UK and the British Association of Dermatologists recommends we should get 10 to 15 minutes of unprotected exposure to sunlight three times a week in the summer, preferably at midday.

The key, however, is to avoid even the slightest bit of burning, so once that 10 to 15 minutes is up it's time to cover up or slather on the sunscreen.

Do changing health messages like this confuse you?

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