A 20-year study, using 3000 women in Sweden, has shown that sun exposure (specifically sunbathing), increases lifespan. The study showed decreased instances of cancer and heart disease amongst those who worshipped the sun. The study also contradicted some of the points made that the sun causes an unhealthy effect.
Women with active sun exposure habits were mainly at a lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and noncancer/non-CVD death as compared to those who avoided sun exposure. As a result of their increased survival, the relative contribution of cancer death increased in these women. Nonsmokers who avoided sun exposure had a life expectancy similar to smokers in the highest sun exposure group, indicating that avoidance of sun exposure is a risk factor for death of a similar magnitude as smoking. Compared to the highest sun exposure group, life expectancy of avoiders of sun exposure was reduced by 0.6-2.1 years.
The important nugget here is that the increased cancer rates found in those who do love the sun is sharply contrasted by the fact that cancer has better odds of infecting a person the longer they live; and the sun is increasing lifespan. This blows the argument that the sun is causing cancer.
This study doesn’t prove that the sun, specifically, increases lifespan, but it certainly goes a long ways to show that it likely doesn’t shorten it. One of the theories for the study’s results is that the sun produces vitamin D. Many people these days are deficient in vitamin D. Vitamin D helps prevent cancer, heart disease and a host of other ailments. Because so many people either avoid the sun or use sunblocking chemicals on their skin, vitamin D is in short supply.
The study did not include men.