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Sun Exposure Warning Overblown?

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Some doctors are fuming about an article in the New York Times that says warnings about the dangers of too much sun are overblown.

The old gray lady has dermatologists seeing red.

An article by health and science correspondent Jane Brody says, "Sunshine can be good medicine after all."

The article quotes Dr. Michael Holick, a leading dermatologist, who says our bodies need regular exposure to the sun to manufacture vitamin D, and that by avoiding the sun or only going out slathered in sunscreen we are depriving our bodies of an essential element in building and maintaining healthy bones.

In fact Dr. Holick's book claims that regular sun exposure could result in 85,000 fewer cases of cancer and 30,000 fewer cancer deaths.

That has dermatologists like Dr. Kathy Fields fuming.

Kathy Fields/ Dermatologist: "It's a very dangerous message today for people to just go out and tan."

At a time when skin cancer rates are rising dramatically, she fears the article will persuade people they no longer need to use sunscreen or limit their exposure to the sun.

Dr. Fields: "If the headline says go out in the sun, it's good for you, people do that. But the fine print says that you only need a few minutes of sunlight to get the vitamin D you need to metabolize it for your bones and bone health. That doesn't mean all day. That doesn't mean high noon. That doesn't mean you can give up your sunscreen. The word is moderation."

You can also manufacture vitamin D through your diet because it's found in dairy products, fish, and fortified cereals.

Or you could simply take a vitamin supplement.

They have all the health benefits without the risks of staying out in the sun.

You can make all the vitamin D you need with just five or ten minutes exposure to sunshine, three times a week.

And that can be early morning or late afternoon when the sun's rays are not as dangerous.

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