Nature is healing! A new study found that working outdoors may lower the risk of developing breast cancer for women over the age of 50.
Since the sun beats down on outdoor workers throughout their day, they're naturally exposed to more Vitamin D, which doctors say could potentially act as a defense against the disease.
The research noted that nowadays, most people spend the majority of their work day inside since they have to use a computer. And due to the rise in breast cancer diagnoses "over the last half of the 20th century," it's suggested that the cause could be "linked to vitamin D deficiency," as UVB sunlight is the primary source of vitamin D.
"Previous research indicates that higher levels of vitamin D in the blood may be associated with lower risk of breast cancer, but the evidence is inconclusive," the study reads. "Most studies have relied on limited assessments of vitamin D levels rather than looking at levels over the long term."
In order to get a better picture, the study looked at 38,375 women under the age of 70 who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. After randomly choosing five women, they compared their life details (like job records) to five women of the same age who had never been diagnosed with cancer.
After taking account of "potentially influential factors, such as reproductive history, no association emerged between occupational exposure to sunlight and overall breast cancer risk," the study noted. However, "long term occupational exposure was associated with a lower risk of breast cancer after the age of 50."
Within this group of women, it was found that those who had worked outside for 20 years or more had a 17 percent lower chance of developing breast cancer.
Needless to say, the research, which was listed as an "observational study" by Science Daily, isn't definitive, as lifestyle factors like medications taken, alcohol consumption, activity level and more were not looked at.
"This study indicates an inverse association between long-term occupational [sunlight] exposure and late-onset breast cancer," researchers concluded. "This finding needs further attention in future occupational studies."