Professor Tim Spector explains his post about 'not wearing sunscreen'

Professor Tim Spector has explained his stance on 'not wearing sunscreen' after a tweet sparked a furious backlash. Professor Spector, the man behind the ZOE health company, sparked anger when he tweeted that people shouldn't wear sunscreen all the time because it could lead to vitamin D deficiency.

A number of prominent health experts hit back saying the risk of skin cancer means you should not dissuade people from wearing sunscreen. More than a million people saw Professor Spector's tweet as the debate raged. Vitamin D is vital for health but in order to get enough people in the UK either need to get a decent dose of sunlight or take supplements.

Professor Spector tweeted: "Vitamin D regulates cancer immunity via microbiome - another reason to stop using SPF 50 all year round which blocks our natural defences."

Now, speaking to MailOnline, Professor Spector said: "People should use sunscreen to prevent sunburn, and the risk of cancer is absolutely clear. I use it myself. But I absolutely wouldn't be using it in January in Glasgow.

"The main sentiment is not that sunscreen is bad – but using sunscreen in winter for most people is bad, and may have other undesired effects. Being deficient in Vitamin D has consequences for people."

The NHS recommends using a sun cream of at least factor 30 and say the sun is strongest between March and October in the UK. They recommend staying out of direct sunlight between 11am and 3pm.

Professor Spector said it is unnecessary to wear sunscreen all the time, and pointed out some companies now sell cosmetic products for all year use which include sunscreen.

He said: "In my mind, and in the mind of many dermatologists, that's completely unnecessary. I don't see the rationale.

"It reminds me of the food industry, convincing people they need all sorts of things added to their diets. Now it's cosmetics companies who are trying to get young people to wear SPF all year round with the message that, if they don't, they'll get wrinkles or skin cancer. For most people it's not true. And this one-size-fits-all approach is unhelpful."

Dermatologist Dr Veronique Bataille, Professor Spector's wife, added: "There are no studies which suggest that using sunscreen in winter in the UK has any benefits at all – and it may well be causing us problems."

Professor Spector said: 'We need to personalise advice. Some people, including those with a family history of melanoma, pale skin and freckles, and lots of moles, do need to be more careful if they're planning to be in the sun for long periods. But even for them, wearing SPF50 all year round is likely to be excessive – and may leave them deficient in Vitamin D.'