If you read my blog yesterday or you are a patient of mine you know that last week my family and I were on vacation. And like every single one of our vacations, it was at a beach. And like on every vacation I watch almost every single person on the beach lather up with sunscreen or even worse spraying themselves down with aerosols. (I try not to sit next to those people) So why do I not partake in lathering up?
Would you say that it is safe to say that more people use sunscreen today than lets say 30 years ago? I would say it is more than safe to say, the use of sunscreen is way more prevalent than it use to be. In fact when I talk to older patients about it, they say the only thing they used growing up was sun tan oil! So why does the use of sunscreen go up every year? What are we all trying to avoid? You guessed it...Skin Cancer. No one wants to "get" that, right? Than let me ask you a simple question. Why are skin cancer rates going up every year if we are using more sunscreen?
Probably never thought of that right? But it's one that will make you scratch your head! Cancer rates are sky rocketing if you didn't notice, including skin cancer rates, and by 2030 cancer rates are predicted to quadruple! that's right, quadruple. Right now a staggering 1 of every 4 people dies from cancer and it is the second leading cause of death in America. In fact in the next decade, cancer will actually pass heart disease as the number one killer in the US. So isn't it common sense that if the sun was single handedly to blame for skin cancer than skin cancer rates should be going down? So why would they be going up?
First most sunscreens are extremely toxic! Aerosol spray sunscreen is toxic to breathe! A whopping 84 percent of sunscreens have toxic chemicals in them. Make sure you pick your sunscreen carefully, and choose natrual or organic, and non toxic screens. One of the worst (and most common) chemicals found in samples is oxybenzone, an endocrine disruptor that can affect the nervous system and creates harmful free-radicals when exposed to the sun--meaning every time you use it! Many popular brands of sunscreen contain this ingredient, including Banana Boat and Coppertone. In fact the FDA now recommends against using spray sunscreens in kids. http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2011/07/don-t-spray-sunscreens-on-kids-at-least-for-now/index.htm
Second, the use of sunscreen may cause cancer itself! While vitamin A's antioxidant properties make for fabulous anti-aging night cream, going out into the sunlight with this stuff on your face is a bad, bad idea. When retinyl palmitate—a form of vitamin A that's found in many sunscreen products—is exposed to sunlight, it can promote growth of cancerous tumors and form free-radicals that damage DNA, according to a 2009 study by the FDA. Avoid any sunscreen containing either retinyl palmitate or retinol. You may love your wrinkle-fighting skin products, but slowing the aging process shouldn't be on your child's list of concerns.
Third, you may not be getting the amount of Vitamin D that you need and according to Dr Daniel Bikle of the San Francisco VA Medical Center and University of California at San Francisco recently reviewed the biochemical and physiological evidence that vitamin D may prevent skin cancer. Vitamin D is crucial to help kids grow and maintain healthy bones and a strong immune system, and it comes straight from sunlight exposure. The American Medical Association and the Center for Disease Control both report that Vitamin D deficiency is a prevalent issue, with up to 25 percent of Americans being at risk. Breastfed babies, dark-skinned children and overweight children are particularly susceptible, and the highest risk factor is limited exposure to the sun. In fact, the health benefits from the Vitamin D absorbed in any short-term sun exposure (about 15 to 20 minutes) may actually outweigh any risks from those harmful UVA and UVB rays.
Did you happen to see this study? http://www.realfarmacy.com/scientists-blow-the-lid-on-cancer-sunscreen-myth/ According to a June 2014 article featured in The Independent (UK), a major study conducted by researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found that women who avoid sunbathing during the summer are twice as likely to die as those who sunbathe every day. In fact, I know someone personally who had stage 4 malignant melanoma and went to a world renowned cancer doctor in Europe, and you know what the doctor did? He put him on a beach because his stress hormone levels were too high! I also have a family member who avoided the sun like the plague and wouldn't leave the house without looking like Casper, and guess what he was diagnosed with a few years ago? That's right skin cancer. So what does this all mean? I think it is safe to say that we can no longer just blame the sun for skin cancer. Maybe it has something to do with all the toxins we are exposed to through cosmetics, food, lifestyle, air, water, etc. Not something that life completely depends on to survive and without it everything as we know it including ourselves would seize to exist.
Now can you overdue it? Of course, like with anything. But with most people stuck in offices all day and are vitamin D deficient there's not many people who are. Im not a fan of getting burnt, and if I don't use conventional sunscreen what do I do? You have a few options, some are common sense, like I wear a hat to avoid burning my face, and alternate my time on vacation with sun and shade. With my kids they were hats and rash guards (Or what Texans would know as Sun shirts) Your best bets for toxin-free sunscreen products are cream-based brands without oxybenzone or vitamin A. Look for options that use zinc or titanium, such as Badger, California Baby, Aubrey Organics, Honest Co. and Kiss My Face. While many Coppertone products are unsafe, it does have four products that make the EWG's list of safe sunscreens: Sensitive Skin Faces Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50, Kids Pure & Simple Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50, Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 and Water Babies Pure & Simple Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50. Here is a great resource to check the safety of your cosmetic products. http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/
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