All my life I have stayed out of the sun, diligently following the instructions of the anti-skin cancer campaigns. I have slipped on a long-sleeved shirt, slopped on sunscreen, and slapped on a hat.1 As a result (unlike quite a few people back home) I’ve never had any skin cancer scares. But it turns out that I’ve been putting myself at risk of rickets:
MILLIONS of Australians are exposing themselves to bone disease, fractures, diabetes and cancers by failing to get enough vitamin D, a crucial nutrient produced when skin is exposed to sunlight.
Experts have warned the highly acclaimed “Slip Slop Slap” campaign may have been taken too far by a nation terrified of skin cancer.
So I’ve avoided skin cancer but now my bones are going to spontaneously fracture? Fabulous. What to do? Apparently there’s a very “fine line between getting enough sun exposure for adequate vitamin D levels but not too much to cause DNA damage that leads to skin cancer.” My cause of action is clear then: I should go out in the sun more but not too much more. Um, where exactly is that thin line?
I shouldn’t be surprised. This is how the world works, innit? Everything is more complicated and tricky than it seems at first. Everything is a balance. Nothing is black and white. Still, I quite liked having one certainty: that minimising my exposure to the sun was good for me.
Le sigh. And of course here I am stuck in a place with absolutely no sunlight. Pass me those Vitamin D tablets, please? Thank you.
- That campaign turned me into a life-long hat addict. [↩]