Developments in Brief : Excess Sun: List of Potential Perils Grows

It has long been known that too much sunbathing can damage and age the skin, and lead to skin cancer. But a new Cornell University study suggests that excessive sun exposure may also make individuals susceptible to other types of cancer by destroying certain nutrients in food.

Exposure to ultraviolet light can result in “highly significant reductions” of beta carotene. Beta carotene, from which Vitamin A is produced in the body, may serve as an important protective agent against skin, lung, bladder and other cancers.

“Our studies strongly suggest that sunlight can break down beta carotene in white and Oriental people who are repeatedly exposed to average summer sunshine,” said nutritionist Daphne A. Roe. “This means that people in sunny climates and those who do not protect themselves from harsh summer sun could lose much of beta carotene’s protective benefits against many kinds of cancer.”