Over the last few years we have all been inundated with messages about how exactly important it is to stay out of the sun. We completely understand the hazards connected with it and do everything we can think of to keep it away from us. We choose the highest SPF sunscreens we can get and then slather on layers and layers of it.

We place huge old floppy hats on our heads. Even through the hottest seasons of the year we make ourselves wear long sleeves and pants. We try and stick to the low light areas-some individuals have even taken to carrying parasols around with them to keep the sun from ever making contact with their skin. Now we’re finding out that the sun’s rays can actually be beneficial! Can direct sunlight really help you?

There is a new study that shows people who let themselves get some exposure to direct sunshine aren’t as prone to come down with MS as those who take steps to minimize sunlight contact on skin. The study was actually performed to see how Vitamin D affects the progression of Multiple Sclerosis. It didn’t take much time for them to realize that it is the Vitamin D our bodies produce after exposure to sunlight that is at the center of the issue.

It has been acknowledged for years that the sun and Vitamin D can be used to hinder the abnormal immune system workings that are thought to contribute to MS. This study, however, deals primarily with the effects of sunlight on the people who are just starting to experience the very earliest symptoms of the disease. The objective of the study is to discover how sunlight and Vitamin D might have an affect on the symptoms doctors call “precursor” to actual symptoms of the disease.

Unfortunately there are not a lot of ways of really quantify the hypothesis of the study. The study wants to demonstrate whether or not exposure to the sunlight can actually prevent MS. Unfortunately, the researchers learned, the only way to that is to monitor people over the course of their lives. This is just about the only solution to actually assess the levels of Vitamin D that are already present in a person’s blood before the precursors to MS start to become apparent. The way it stands now, and has stood (widely recognized) for a long time is that people who live in warm and sunny climates and who get more exposure to direct sunlight are less likely to develop MS than those who live in dark or cold climates and get very little exposure to the sun.

There is also the very significant issue that spending too much time in the sunlight greatly increases a person’s chances of developing skin cancer. So, if you make an effort to stop one disease, there’s a chance you’re helping to induce the other one. Of course, skin cancer-if caught early on-has an increased chance of being cured. MS still isn’t curable.

So what should you do: chance skin cancer or risk MS? Talk to your doctor to figure out if this is an excellent strategy. Your health care provider can evaluate your current health status, your health background and even your genetics to determine if you are even at risk for the disease in the first place. From here your physician will be able to make it easier to determine the best course of action.