You know that the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause skin cancer and premature aging, and that wearing sunscreen is an important way to protect yourself. But research has shown that sunlight also seems to affect health in a lot of other ways, both positively and negatively.
“One American dies every hour from skin cancer, and the overwhelming majority of these cancers are caused by overexposure to UV light—there’s no question about that,” says Darrell Rigel, MD, clinical professor of dermatology at New York University Langone Medical Center. “But that doesn’t mean you should stay inside all day or that there aren’t plenty of health benefits to being outdoors. You just have to balance everything and use common sense to protect yourself.” Here’s what you need to know so you can make smart choices when you step outside.