Sun protection does not raise fracture risk


Findings from a recent study support the concept that multi-modal sun-protective behaviour is not associated with a reduction in bone mineral density (BMD) or increased osteoporotic fracture.


The study, published online ahead of print in JAMA Dermatology (Oct. 27, 2021), was a cross-sectional examination of data from U.S. adults who participated in the 2017 to 2018 cycle of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). This included records on 3,418 adults (1,612 men and 1,806 women) aged 20 years and older.


Breaking down the data by type of sun protection used, the prevalence of frequent staying in the shade was 31.6%, wearing of long sleeves was 11.8%, and sunscreen use was 26.1%.


The investigators found that the use of individual sun-protective behaviours was not associated with diminished site-specific or total BMD scores. Moderate to frequent staying in the shade was associated with a reduced prevalence of spine fractures. The researchers suggest this lower risk might be due to risk-averse individuals avoiding both sun exposure and activities that could cause fractures.


“These reassuring findings add to the growing body of evidence on the safety of sun protection, with no considerable negative association with bone health,” the authors write.


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