Here at Skin Analytics, we are always keen to remind you about the dangers of UV exposure. Too much, and you’re risking melanoma. But equally, if you don’t expose yourself enough, other problems can arise.
We have written before about ways to best limit your sunlight exposure, and we are of course very keen to let everyone know about ways to spot the damage it causes. But, very occasionally, limiting UV exposure is the opposite of what’s required.
WW1 Germany is the perfect example of such an occasion, It’s estimated that half of all children in 1918 Berlin were suffering from rickets- a condition whereby bones become soft and deformed. Its cause was unknown.
Kurt Huldschinsky, a local Doctor, spotted that most children with these symptoms were very pale. So, to experiment, he put a group of them under mercury-quartz lamps, which emit UV light (the same lamps found in modern sun beds). He began to notice that the bones of his young patients were getting stronger. When the summer sun arrived, he sat them outside during the day, directly in the sunlight, and the improvements continued to show. It seemed the UV light was having a positive effect upon bone development
The success of this research spurred further investigation into the relationship between UV light and human bone development. It was soon discovered that Vitamin D is necessary to build up bones with calcium and this process is triggered by ultraviolet light. In this case, sun beds were doing some good.
So, while we certainly wouldn’t recommend using mercury-quartz lamps to tan at the Sun Beds (at least not if you don’t have rickets!), it’s clear that, in moderation, outdoor activities in the sun can not only be fun, but beneficial for your health.