Direct exposure to the sun is the health risk behind the growing incidence of skin cancer. But sunlight also is the best source of vitamin D, which is essential to good health.

In fact, research indicates that the ultraviolet radiation in sunlight, in moderate doses, may help prevent up to 16 other kinds of cancer.

Example: One 60-year study in Australia found that people who had the most exposure to sunlight had a 35% lower risk of suffering non-Hodgkin's lymphoma—a group of cancers that begin in the lymph nodes—than did those with the least sun exposure.

Safety: Avoid burning in the sun and prolonged exposure to strong sunlight (such as sunbathing) to reduce skin cancer risk. But do go out in the sun for 15 to 30 minutes each day without sunscreen while the sun is high in the sky, such as before or after lunch, to get enough sunlight to meet your body's vitamin-D needs.

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