There are many factors associated with bone density.

More people are protecting themselves from exposure to sunlight to prevent skin cancers. Does that prevention increase the risk of reducing bone density?

JAMA Study Studies can prove almost anything you want if you structure them appropriately. When I read this headline (Sunscreen and Shade Won’t Weaken Your Bones), I thought this was one of those studies.

The Department of Dermatology did the study at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. They looked at government records (questionnaires) of over 3,400 adults averaging 40 years of age associated with personal behavior and sun exposure.

Limiting Factor Why would a study concentrate on a group of people (average age of 40) not likely to have bone density problems? That made little sense to me. Why look at questionnaires? Though they might provide insight into personal behavior, the demographic is questionable.

The study should have concentrated on those over 70 years of age to understand better how sun exposure over time can affect bone density loss. Did this study group live in Minnesota their whole lives? Or should those living in Miami be a better test case?

Other Studies In less than a minute of searching, I found this study. We can get vitamin D from several sources other than exposure to sunlight. This study used synchrotron radiation-based micro computer tomography (CT scans) to measure bone density in the nanometer to micrometer range on a group (30) of people with an average age of almost 60.

Everyone in this group was deficient in vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin). All were deceased. The significance of this study is the in-depth look at the mineral deposition on the bone’s surface and immediately underneath. They found that vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of bone fractures by over 30%.

The surface of the bones studied showed less surface mineralization than just under the surface, where bone mineralization was higher. This indicates a higher risk of bone fracture and bone brittleness. Vitamin D deficiency leads to loss of bone density and the way that bone cells create bone.


Vitamin D is not the sole determiner of bone density, as the article maintains. Calcium is the primary chemical in the bone-building process. Magnesium assists the bioavailability and absorbability in the body. Vitamin D allows for calcium to enter the bloodstream. It is vitamin K that directs calcium into the bones. When vitamin K is deficient, calcium is deposited into the heart valves and arteries.

There appear to be conflicts between too much sun exposure and the increased risk of skin cancer versus too little sun exposure and increased bone density loss. However, analyzing questionnaires of younger adults and basing study results on this scientific method to determine healthy long-term bone density seems a stretch for me.

Many factors are associated with loss of bone density, and history of wearing sunscreen/long-sleeved shirts is part of the equation. In addition, keeping a body in an acidic state will cause calcium to leach out of the bones, resulting in osteopenia and eventually osteoporosis.

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin –



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