Earlier this summer, a new study on Vitamin D deficiencies in Americans concluded that we should stop wearing so much sunscreen. After all the proselytizing about the dangers of skin cancer that had rained down on our ears for all these years, many people freaked out. I read the news, yawned, and moved on with my day. OK, maybe I gloated a little bit before I moved on. I never wear sunscreen. I hate the way it feels on my skin, particularly my face. The lotions and sprays choke my pores and make my sweat greasy. I prefer to wear a ridiculous hat to protect my face and my neck when necessary. Usually I'm not out in a strong enough sun for long enough that the "when necessary" clause is applicable.
Many moons ago, as I discussed my family's medical history with a doctor, she recommended that I take calcium pills in addition to eating calcium-rich foods. Since calcium is not absorbed without vitamin D, she told me to be sure to get some sunlight. "Just 15 minutes a day is more than enough," she told me. I don't always make that minimal amount, especially in winter, but as I walk about the city in my daily activities, it pleases me that my walks have a double bottom line.
Friends pleaded with me or scolded me about my lack of SPF. As a super whitey, I should worry about wrinkles and skin cancer. I agree that if I'm sitting out in the park for hours on end in the sun that I should slather myself up. Some bad burns have reminded me that, yeah, it is necessary to use sunscreen at times. But if I'm just running here and there, in and out of shelters and shade, it seems like overkill.
If I'm wrong, I'll get skin cancer at worst (which is very bad) or at best be a shriveled, wrinkled prune by the time I'm 40 (at least I might fool people into thinking I'm wise or giving me senior citizen discounts). My bones will be strong, though, because I love my vitamin D and hate sunscreen.