Health bosses are investigating the results of a study which shows that women who avoid sunbathing during the summer are twice as likely to die than those who sunbathe every day.
The study, conducted by researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, followed nearly 30,000 women over 20 years.
They found that the results “showed that mortality was about double in women who avoided sun exposure compared to the highest exposure group”.
Public Health England have said they would be considering the research carefully.
Experts behind the study say that wearing sunscreen and staying out of the sun could lead to a deficiency in vitamin D, which has been linked to more aggressive forms of skin cancer
Vitamin D is created by exposure to the sun and also protects the body against diabetes, tuberculosis, multiple sclerosis and rickets.
They also claimed that guidelines advising people to stay out of the sun and wear sunscreen could be harming the population.
“Sun exposure advice which is very restrictive in countries with low solar intensity might in fact be harmful for women’s health,” said Dr Pelle Lindqvist.
“The mortality rate was increased two-fold among avoiders of sun exposure as compared to those with the highest sun exposure habits.”
Professor Dorothy Bennett from the University of London told Business Insider: “The findings support the consensus that the ideal amount of sun exposure for Northern Europeans is ‘a little’, rather than zero.
“Those who normally avoid the sun and/or cover most of their skin are advised to take vitamin D supplements.”
Yinka Ebo from Cancer Research UK suggested the study was “unexplained”, and added that “unhealthy lifestyle choices could have played a part”.
And a spokesman from the Department of Health commented: “Most people in the UK can get enough vitamin D from sunlight, but those at risk of vitamin D deficiency should take daily supplements.”