Public Health Nutrition


Vitamin D, sun, sunbeds and health

Johan Moana1a2, Zivile Baturaitea1 c1, Asta Juzenienea1 and Alina Carmen Porojnicua1

a1 Department of Radiation Biology, Institute for Cancer Research, The Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo University Hospital, Ullernchausseen 70, Montebello N-0310 Oslo, Norway

a2 Institute of Physics, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway


Objective To review the health effects of solar radiation, sunbeds and vitamin D.

Design The literature was searched in the electronic database MEDLINE to indentify published data between 1981 and 2011. Studies were included if they reported relative risk for cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM) associated with sunbed use, vitamin D and UV effects on human health.

Setting Data from different time periods for populations at different latitudes.

Subjects Persons of different ages and ethnic groups.

Results UV from sun and sunbeds is the main vitamin D source. Young people with white or pigmented skin in northern Europe have a low vitamin D status. A number of health benefits from sufficient levels of vitamin D have been identified. However, UV exposure has been suspected of causing skin cancer, notably CMM, and authorities warn against it.

Conclusions The overall health benefit of an improved vitamin D status may be more important than the possibly increased CMM risk resulting from carefully increasing UV exposure. Important scientific facts behind this judgement are given.

(Received June 23 2011)

(Accepted September 16 2011)

(Online publication October 24 2011)


c1 Corresponding author: Email