The sun is often portrayed as bad – it’s UV radiation a cause of skin cancer and other harmful ailments, however without it we and most other animals and plants would not exist. It is also shown to have many positive effects such as vitamin D production. In my case study I am going to go into this in depth and try to find out whether the sun is good or bad for us. Points discussed will include:

~ The weather

~ Vitamin D production

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~ Treatment of mental disorders

~ Treatment of diseases and cancers

~ Heat exhaustion

~ Cataracts

~ And skin cancer

I believe that the sun is, overall, good for us. The evidence that persuades me is that without the Sun, the Earth’s only source of energy would be geothermal. So, excepting some bacteria and small animals that live near geothermal vents under the oceans, all life on the planet would become extinct. Someone might disagree with me because they think that “it is a common misconception that the sun is necessary for the survival of human life.”(killer boot-http://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20061211111609AAVLYpH) the evidence they use is a test done on a wide variety of mammals that has shown that minimal exposure to the sun and it’s harmful UV radiation could result in much healthier dispositions, including better tissue regeneration, eyesight and other positive characteristics. I would persuade them they were wrong by the fact that even if we could survive without sunlight there is no evidence to suggest plants could – and therefore we would die of starvation instead. Also I think their conclusion may be biased or wrong because there was only one experiment carried out and their information might not be all that reliable because it was found on yahoo.com where anyone can post a comment.

Where UV is in the radiation spectrum.

Another piece of evidence that persuades me that the sun is good for us is that 75% of the body’s vitamin D supply is generated by the skin’s exposure to UVB rays from the sun.

The effect of vitamin D in the sun’s UV radiation on your body.

Vitamin D regulates the absorption of calcium from food, promotes bone formation, is good for the hormonal parathyroid gland, and promotes anti-bodies that fight tumours. Also women with high levels of vitamin D are up to 50% less likely to develop breast cancer (A joint British/US study). A low blood level of vitamin D is known to increase the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, the development of colon cancer and may also accelerate the growth of melanoma (a type of skin cancer). It may also cause osteoporosis, arthritis and schizophrenia later in life. Someone might disagree with me because they think that the skin’s exposure to UVB rays increases the risk of skin cancer. The evidence that they use is “90% of all skin cancers are caused by sun exposure” (The Skin Cancer Foundation). Whilst I believe this to be true as the Skin Cancer Foundation is probably very reliable, it may be a little biased as although there is no reason to doubt the figures, only around 7000 UK citizens are diagnosed with melanoma each year, and other types of skin cancer, although being the most common type of cancer in white populations, are easy to treat and pose only a small threat to life.

. Therefore I would be persuaded to believe that whilst some sunlight is definitely recommended, maybe not so much that you become sunburnt, as this can damage the DNA in your skin cells and increase your risk of skin cancer.

The effect of UV radiation on the DNA in your cells.

I am also persuaded that the sun is good for us because it can aid in the treatment of mental disorders such as S.A.D. disorder and depression. It can also help treat some diseases and cancers. The evidence to back this up is:

~ Some studies have shown that malignant melanoma is inhibited by vitamin D from sun exposure.

~ People with jobs outside and people who live in areas of the world that get more sunlight have been shown to have a lower death rate from ovarian, breast and colon cancers and a lower incidence of skin cancer. One researcher suggested that increases in certain cancers might be due, partly to sunlight deprivation.

~ Psoriasis is a common skin disease that is usually very difficult to treat. However, UV radiation can help reduce the appearance/discomfort of psoriasis.

~ The lack of much sun in winter has been shown to cause S.A.D. Individuals with S.A.D. suffer from long periods a mental disorder similar to depression. It is important to get some sunlight fairly often to help avoid S.A.D. and depression.

Someone might disagree with me because they think that the sun can cause heat exhaustion, cataracts and many other things such as cancer. The evidence they use is scientific studies on these issues, some of which have been published in the New Scientist, which is usually very reliable as it is a scientific journal.

Another argument to support my opinion is that the sun is necessary to make the weather systems work whereas an argument against would be it will eventually kill us by exploding when it dies and it could easily kill us here and now if it wasn’t for the electromagnetic shield around the earth generated by our core. Both of these arguments have very strong basis in fact and are very reliable.

Overall there are essentially 2 main points of view: the sun is good for us or bad for us. I agree with both points to a certain extent in that I think the sun is good for us in moderation, as we need it to exist and produce vitamin D, however, overexposure could cause skin cancers. The reason for this is that although I have gathered a lot of information supporting the fact that the sun is good for us (the most quelling argument being we could not survive without it) there is some evidence against this, which, I feel, cannot be ignored as it has a strong basis in fact. However, I think the fact that the sun will eventually explode is rather irrelevant as it won’t happen for millions of years and humans will probably be extinct via Global Warming or something by then anyway.

The only view I really disagree with is the one expressed by “killer boot” – that the sun is not necessary for human life. I think this is false because there is only one study claiming this and it is very unreliable because there are no links to the said study or any indication on how it was carried out. Otherwise I think the other sources I used were all fairly reliable. However, to improve the range of sources and be surer as to the answer to the question “Is the sun good for us?” I would use some different sources e.g. books, newspaper articles, so as to have a wider selection of information.

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