If you love basking in the sun, a new study finds that while your risk of skin cancer increases, sun worshippers may enjoy a few suprising health benefits.
Researchers from the University of Copenhagen analyzed data from 4.4 million people living in Denmark (the country's entire population) over a 23-year period, including 130,000 with non-melanoma skin cancer, all aged over 40 years.
Findings showed that those who had been diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer were four percent less likely to have suffered a heart attack. They also had a 48 percent lower risk of dying from any cause.
The results appear online
in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
"Our study suggests that having a diagnosis of skin cancer was associated with less myocardial infarction, less hip fracture in those below age 90 years and less death from any cause compared with general population controls," the researchers wrote.
Why the benefit? While it's not clear, the scientists suggest that it may be simply due to a health boost from vitamin D, or having a healthier, more outdoorsy lifestyle.
Still, experts say that there is no excuse for not taking proper precautions when in the sunshine.
"Overexposure to UV rays from the sun or sunbeds is the main cause of skin cancer," said Dr. Claire Knight of Cancer Research UK, according to The Daily Mail. "We all need some sun in our lives to make vitamin D, which is crucial for healthy bones. But the key is to enjoy the sun safely and avoid sunburn."