The research2 in question, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in December 2018, calls for an immediate revision of public health recommendations, noting that "nonburning UV exposure is a health benefit and — in moderation — should be recommended as such."
The authors warn that the public has been misled and misinformed about the health ramifications of sun avoidance, as there are significant hazards associated with vitamin D deficiency, including a heightened risk of heart disease and several cancers, especially internal cancers but also skin cancer.3
Vitamin D research demonstrates vitamin D is involved in the biochemical function of nearly every cell and tissue in your body, including your immune system. When you're deficient in vitamin D, your health can deteriorate in a variety of important ways, because your cells require the active form of vitamin D to gain access to the genetic blueprints stored inside the cell. A press release4 by the Canadian Vitamin D Society notes:
"The authors examined the current state of scientific research and found that severe sunburns are linked to an increase risk of melanoma but nonburning sun exposure is linked to a reduced risk of melanoma.
'This is a message the public never receive from current public health guidelines,' states Dr. David Hoel, lead author, department of public health sciences, Medical University of South Carolina.
'The public is led to believe that all sun exposure should be avoided and that the avoidance of sun exposure is free of risk from a health perspective. That is not the case.'"
Indeed, the paper warns an estimated 12 percent of all U.S. deaths may be linked to inadequate sun exposure, and that sun avoidance is as potent a risk factor for death as smoking.