The report says too much sun exposure can cause deadly skin cancers, serious sunburn, cataracts, skin aging and other ailments, and encourages the use of sunscreen and avoidance of tanning salons.
"We all need some sun, but too much sun can be dangerous -- and even deadly," says Dr. Maria Neira, Director for Public Health and the Environment at the WHO.
However, natural health advocates say that sun exposure -- which naturally produces healing vitamin D in the skin -- has saved far more lives than 60,000. "No life at all would be possible on this planet without the sun," said Mike Adams, a consumer health advocate and proponent of the healing powers of natural sunlight. "To teach people to be afraid of the sun is harmful health advice that will ultimately kill more people than it saves. Most people have too little sunlight, not too much."
Since it is often difficult to get adequate levels of vitamin D through diet alone, sun exposure is necessary to receive the full benefits of the nutrient, and in areas of the world that lack regular sunlight, visiting a tanning booth is the next best way for the body to produce vitamin D. "Tanning booths are medical devices," explains Adams. "And the vitamin D produced in response to ultraviolet light is one of the most powerful anti-cancer nutrients known to modern science."
Vitamin D is critical for calcium absorption, as well as prevention of rickets and osteoporosis, and has been shown to prevent many forms or cancer. Medical experts say up to 25 percent of breast cancer deaths could be avoided if women had adequate levels of vitamin D in their systems throughout their lifetime.
Advocates of sun exposure also criticize the WHO's recommendation to wear sunscreen, as most brands of sunblock contain toxic chemicals and reduce the body's ability to absorb ultraviolet radiation, which is the mechanism through which the body produces vitamin D.