New NICE guidelines uncover the risks and benefits of sunlight exposure

09 Feb 2016

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has today released new guidelines that outline the risks and benefits of sunlight exposure.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has today released new guidelines that outline the risks and benefits of sunlight exposure.

The guidelines, Sunlight exposure: risks and benefits, urges practitioners to communicate the risks of excessive sun exposure to their patients, as well as inform them of the increased risk of low vitamin D status due to underexposure.

NICE has made 18 recommendations in the guidance, including suggestions to practitioners which include offering one-to-one tailored advice to individual patients, communicating the risks and benefits of sun exposure to their patients and supporting community health programmes to raise awareness of under and overexposure to sunlight.

Deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE, Professor Gillian Leng, said practitioners need to communicate the amount of time one spends in the sun depends on a number of factors and some people are more at risk of over or underexposure than others. 

“We need to better identify groups at risk of over or underexposure to sunlight and give them better understanding of why they may need to modify their behaviour and how. Our new recommendations will help tailor public health activities focused on those groups most at risk from over or underexposure to sunlight. They will ensure that all activities and campaigns take a balanced, consistent and effective approach, and ultimately make the sun more friend than foe,” she said.

London dermatologist, Dr Anjali Mahto, thinks the guidelines are an important reminder to practitioners of the need to spread the word when it comes to the benefits and risks of the sun.  

“We know rates of skin cancer have been increasing since the 1970s. From a practitioner point of view, this should be emphasised as well as the ageing aspect,” she explains, adding, “Practitioners need to advise patients that one – you can still burn on cloudy days, two – there is no safe way to tan and three – that how much time you can safely spend in the sun depends on geographical location, time of day and year, weather conditions and an individual's natural skin colour. Health practitioners should also know that 35 millilitres or 6-8 teaspoons of sun protectant equates how much one adult body needs. Application should be half an hour before going out then again when you are out. Reapplication should be liberal and frequent,” she said.

The new guidelines were released to replace the 2011 recommendations 1-5 in Skin cancer prevention and should be read in conjunction with NICE’s guideline on Vitamin D: increasing supplement use among at-risk groups.

Comments

Log-in to post a comment