As summer is fast approaching here in the southern hemisphere I thought it would be a great opportunity to write about sunscreens. It’s certainly a great time to evaluate what’s in the tube BEFORE you put it on! Did you know the Cancer Council of Australia in 1980 launched a very successful health campaign? I remember as a child watching “Sid” the seagull, adorned with board shorts, t-shirt and a hat, tap across the TV screen singing a catchy jingle Slip Slop Slap reminding parents and kids to be careful of the nasty sun and skin cancer.
Did it help or did it hinder? Have cancer rates increased or decreased since the large push for slopping on sunscreen came about?
I get the slap on a hat and slip on a shirt where sensible part but the slopping of lotion on the largest organ of our body – our skin – had me question whether this is worth it and of course what the impact to our body longer term is.
My husband and I decided decades ago not to use sunscreen with ourselves or our children. It doesn’t make sense to do so simply based on a nature versus technology argument. After all nature’s been around forever! We frequent the beach in the morning, home for lunch and then back to the beach in the afternoon. We view the sun as an important component in our own and our children’s life. Unfortunately despite the unknowns about sunscreen safety and efficacy the public health agencies still recommend using it.
Let’s take a closer look…
Did you know 75% of the sunscreens available have harmful ingredients. The best sunscreen is a hat and a shirt! No chemicals for the skin to absorb, no questions about whether the product works, no bogus claims like “broad spectrum” or “sunblock!” Researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology are discovering that sunscreen may not be so safe after all as reported in www.sciencedaily.com.
In fact sunscreen laws allow sunscreen manufacturers to advertise that using their products can decrease the risk of skin cancer and sun-related skin aging. But a wide range of public health agencies – including the FDA – have found very little evidence that sunscreen prevents most types of skin cancer. Some researchers have even detected an increased risk of melanoma among sunscreen users.
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Governing agencies have proposed prohibiting the sale of sunscreens with SPF values higher than 50+ as “there is no assurance that the specific values themselves are in fact truthful…” (FDA 2007).
The main source of vitamin D in the body is sunshine, which is enormously important to health. Sunscreen clearly inhibits its production. Vitamin D strengthens bones and the immune system, reduces the risk of various cancers (breast, colon, kidney and ovarian) and regulates at least a thousand different genes governing virtually every tissue in the body (Mead 2008). UVB radiation signals a molecule on the skin – 7-dehydrocholesterol – to convert to the active form of Vitamin D3 – cholecalciferol – in the body. Vitamin D3 synthesis depends upon UVB radiation, which effectively penetrates only the outer layers of the skin. Vitamin D deficiency is a current epidemic in our society today affecting 90%+ of our world`s population. According to Vitamin D expert Michael Holick “we estimate that vitamin D deficiency is the most common medical condition in the world. It is clear that most people are not getting enough healthy sun exposure. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to increased risk of virtually every form of cancer including skin cancer, cardiovascular disease and immune insufficiencies.”
Melanoma’s, as you well know, are a form of skin cancer associated with excessive sun exposure. However, many recent studies have shown that individuals wearing sunscreen had a higher likelihood of creating a melanoma. Additionally, melanoma patients with increased levels of sun exposure were less likely to die than other melanoma patients. Patients, who already had melanoma and a lot of sun exposure, were prone to a less aggressive tumor types.
Umm… certainly makes you think!
We decided long ago NOT to play with sunscreens but rather to play in the sun sensibly and enjoy it!
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