So here we go: deep diving in to a subject that holds much controversy. Because skin health and protection are things that I am concerned with personally, this sunscreen debacle is worth the research.
Recently there have been more studies and released statements about new findings of sunscreen and its efficacy and safety. These findings are much different to the understandings we have all held to date, and it is this that creates the controversy: to sunscreen or not. And, if yes to sunscreen, then what kind of sunscreen?
Something to keep in the back of your mind while reading through this post is the question of how people managed to keep their skin healthy before the invention of sunscreen. What measures were taken so that sunburns did not burden them?
I am going to try to keep it simple and brief.
What is the purpose of sunscreen anyway? To either scatter, absorb, or reflect the sun’s rays from your skin, and the sunscreens in the marketplace are either chemical or physical. What you chose to use will be decided by the marketing scheme that catches your attention: ‘longest coverage’, ‘best UV blocking’, ‘waterproof’, ‘safe for children’, ‘broad spectrum’, ‘contains Vit A’ and the list goes on.
The first problem with sunscreens is the ingredients used within. There is a common list of about 17 ingredients, and of these ingredients only a handful have been proven to be safe enough to use, while the others have shown to absorb into the bloodstream with devastating effects. This is where it gets interesting.
Ingredients such as oxybenzone, a synthetic estrogen that enters the bloodstream and disrupts hormone processes (hormones most commonly disrupted are thyroid, estrogen, testosterone, progesterone: can reduce sperm counts in men, contribute to endometriosis in women), or retinyl palmitate, a derivative of Vitamin A, which speeds up growth of cancerous cells by up to 21%, are now coming to our attention and causing much concern.
Here is another mindblowing fact: when one applies sunscreen, the very important cancer-preventing vitamin D is being inhibited and thus cannot be synthesized. I did not know this before!
It is the UVB rays from the sun that aid in the synthesizing of the Vitamin D, to prevent many types of cancers. The UVB rays (short rays) create the much-needed Vitamin D supply that further protects us from the skin cancer melanoma, caused by exposure to UVA rays (much longer ray length). We need UVB protection in order to protect against UVA. Think of it as the screen door.
Could our sunscreens that were created to prevent skin cancer, be causing them?
Can it really be that the sun exposure which can cause skin cancer in the wrong set of circumstances, also prevent skin cancer when the circumstances are correct?
Here is a statement from the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapies:
“Sunscreens protect against sunburn, but there is no evidence that they protect against basal cell carcinoma or melanoma. Problems lie in the behaviors of individuals who use sunscreens to stay out longer in the sun than they otherwise would. Vitamin D inhibition is, at this stage, unlikely due to insufficient use by individuals. Safety of sunscreens is a concern, and sunscreen companies have emotionally and inaccurately promoted the use of sunscreen.”
So, what to do? What to do?
In my research I came across many solutions and suggestions, and some stood out to me.
One theory stands above many in my opinion, and it has to do with food. When a person eats the correct foods, they create a shield that is built by the body itself, and it protects one from excessive exposure.
Studies have found that “omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) as stimulators, and long chain omega 3 PUFAs as inhibitors of development and progression of a range of human cancers, including melanoma” ~ American Health Foundation Journal.
We need a healthy range of the two omegas, 1:1 – 3:1, but our ‘modern’ diets give us somewhere between 17:1 – 30:1 of these omegas. Be sure to keep your diet rich in omega 3, and much less omega 6 for healthy cancer protection.
In addition, include antioxidants that rid the body of inflammation and free radicals, and be sure to source only the cleanest, wildest, healthier sources.
Thinking back to our ancestors and their diets, could it be that their way of living aided them in preventing these skin cancers? Albeit they didn’t have the convenience of fast food, prepackaged food, or precooked food to choose from, but maybe it was this very fact that saved them the burden we carry nowadays.
What about simple measures to cover up, respect the time we spend in the sun, and take the needed time to prepare our skin for further exposure by slowly tanning, to build our body’s natural Vitamin D resources of protection?
This sunscreen debate will go on for some time no doubt, as further studies are carried out, but for myself I will be allowing my body to do what it does best and will support it in the ways necessary so it can protect me accordingly.
I would embrace further discussion on this, so please comment.
(there was so much information on this topic and it took me a lot of time to downsize it to fit in to a simple post: fascinating subject and much more to say on it)