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To 'Screen or not to 'Screen; That is the question...

Sunscreen is a hot topic these days with a lot of emotion attached to it. But -- before you make your own choice, before you decide what you believe about sunscreen, ask yourself some questions. Have you researched the ingredients? Has advertising affected your opinion? BE INFORMED. I've been asked by a few people why I shy away from the daily use of sunscreen. It's a decision I don't take lightly as my own Dad and brother-in-law have had skin cancer.

What am I putting on my skin?

The main chemical used in sunscreens to filter out ultraviolet B light is octyl methoxycinnamate. OMC for short. OMC was found to kill mouse cells even at low doses. Plus, it was also shown to be particularly toxic when exposed to sunshine. And guess what? OMC is present in 90 percent of sunscreen brands!

But that's not the half of it. A common ultraviolet A filter, butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane, has also demonstrated toxic properties. In addition, Dioxybenzone and oxybenzone are known to generate free radicals.

Furthermore, several studies show that the chemicals commonly used in sunscreens are absorbed through the skin and end up circulating in your blood stream. Not so good.

The average/typical sunscreen contains all or some of the following questionable ingredients:

  • Para amino benzoic acid

  • Octyl salicyclate

  • Avobenzone

  • Oxybenzone

  • Cinoxate

  • Padimate O

  • Dioxybenzone

  • Phenylbenzimidazole

  • Homosalate

  • Sulisobenzone

  • Menthyl anthranilate

  • Trolamine salicyclate

  • Octocrylene

If you don't know what these ingredients are, look them up! Several of these ingredients have also been found to react to chlorine.

Side note -- turns out sunscreen isn't so good for the ocean. National Geographic recently came out with a startling discovery: Sunscreen chemicals are killing coral reefs around the world.

So how do I protect my skin, you ask?

The best way, is to cover it up. Wear a hat, long sleeved shirts, etc. Avoid being out for more than one hour during the peak sunburn hours 10a - 3p. Enjoy the sunshine early or later in the afternoon. Also, something to consider is the correlation between a healthy diet and sunburn. It turns out that a diet rich in antioxidants and healthy fats not only repairs sunburn and sun damage but can actually prevent cell damage.

And, let's not forget the benefits of sunshine!

Sunlight (UVB rays) allow the body to produce Vitamin D and the brain to release serotonin (mood boosting). Some researched and documented dis-eases associated with lack of Vitamin D include: rickets, bone pain, muscle weakness, cardiovascular disease, depression, cognitive impairment, asthma in children, cancer, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance, multiple sclerosis, etc. Interestingly, the Industrial Revolution with mass populations leaving the fields and finding themselves in factories all day long introduced rickets as a wide-spread health problem.

Lastly, has sunscreen been proven to prevent skin cancer?

My research leads me to believe that sunscreen does NOT, in fact, prevent skin cancer. Here's why. Most sunscreens on the market protect against UVB - the short rays that burn. The short UVB rays have a more immediate surface effect on your skin and can cause sunburn pretty quickly. They also help facilitate the production of skin-cancer preventing vitamin D in the skin. The long UVA rays penetrate more deeply into your skin and can cause melanoma cancer lesions to form. Most sunscreen works to prevent sunburn, which means that it is formulated to block out UVB rays, the shorter rays. But it doesn’t protect as well, and in many cases it doesn’t protect at all against the longer UVA rays.

CONVERSELY, PEOPLE CAN DEVELOP MELANOMA WITHOUT GOING OUT IN THE SUN AT ALL. This could be due to exposure to UVA rays through windows in office buildings, which also tend to block vitamin D producing UVB light.

In fact, according to a study published in the Lancet, “Outdoor workers have a decreased risk of melanoma compared with indoor workers.” That same study theorized that “chronic sunlight exposure can have a protective effect.”

The UVB rays that you block when you put on sunscreen are the same ones that help your body create vitamin D, and vitamin D helps to prevent the onset of skin cancer. This also explains why melanoma rates are actually higher in latitudes where people get the least exposure to the sun (above 40 degrees), even when they wear sunscreen:

Populations further from the equator tend to have lighter skin. Melanin blocks UVA very effectively, and the pre-tan melanin of someone with olive skin is enough to block most of the UVA that sunscreen lets through. The fair-skinned among us don’t have that luxury, so our melanocytes get bombarded by UVA, leading to melanoma. This may explain the incredible rise in melanoma incidence in the US in the last 35 years, as people have also increased the use of sunscreen.

Put simply, when you use sunscreen you are in essence letting in the “bad” light, and blocking out the “good” light. In fact, there is evidence that a deficit of vitamin D may be one of the primary factors that can put you more at risk for developing skin cancer.

In Conclusion --

When I do choose a sunscreen that is zinc oxide based and only on rare "all-sun" days; but, for the most part, I choose other measures of sun protection. A quick google search provides options for natural, chemical-free, nanoparticle free sunscreen brands. Each person must make their own informed choices for themselves and their family. No judgment here either way.

P.S. If you do find yourself with a burn, LavaDerm After-Sun Spray by Young Living soothes and moisturizes. I'd be happy to order for you.

To Whole Health!

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