Did you know that sunscreen might be contributing to skin cancer? So many sunscreens are riddled with dangerous toxins which have been linked to causing cancer. In addition, society’s fear of skin cancer has led many unexposed people to become vitamin D deficient, which has also been linked to cancer. It’s funny (funny crazy, not funny haha) that melanoma has actually risen even though average sun exposure has been dramatically reduced. Go figure?!?! Another culprit behind skin cancer is processed vegetable oils and trans fats as they interfere with the enzyme system that helps our body repair damage from the ultraviolet light, detoxify and eliminate carcinogens.
Certainly research out there is contradictory. To make it more confusing, some of those research articles are not reliable enough to validate their conclusions (i.e. sample size too small, or trials not randomised or controlled, or the companies funding the research have invested interest in a product that will be promoted if results prove positive). I’ve researched quite a few books, research articles, and reliable online sources about the topic of sunscreen. I’ve included links to some of them below. Some look at the rise of melanoma, despite the fact that time spent in the sun has lessened (which makes me wonder if other things – not just overexposure of the sun – contribute to skin cancer, such as inflammatory food sources and toxic chemicals that produce free radicals, which can cause cancerous tumours. Perhaps our cells are weakened by these things, so that we are unable to affectively repair from sunburn, which then leads to cell mutations of the skin and inside the body – of course this is my speculation, although some of the sources below explore these areas). Other articles look at the benefits of sun exposure for preventing against certain types of cancers, and also from preventing against Vit. D deficiency (which can also lead to mutation of cells which can then lead to chronic diseases, such as cancer).
For a user-friendly read, check out the first link from www.ewg.org – this is a non-for-profit organisation who have done extensive research into sunscreens, and potential adverse effects of toxic ones, as well as listing safe, natural ones. They have a very long reference list as well, which can be searched online. I like to look at the primary sources (the articles), to check that interpretations of articles are correct. Mineral sunscreens are by far the safest (I use zinc oxide in my balm), and protect against both UVB and UVA exposure. Some synthetic sunscreens only protect against UVB but not UVA – so you won’t burn, but the sun may do damage to the cells beneath, which can be far more dangerous….again, if your cells aren’t healthy because of free-radicals from inflammatory foods and toxins (found in lots of places, including synthetic sunscreens) then they will struggle to repair in a functional and healthy way. Then of course there are the other health issues related to toxins in sunscreen, such as affecting hormonal functioning.
An interesting thing too is that a lot of sunscreens include Vitamin A as it is known for it’s anti-oxidant and anti-ageing properties. While it’s an essential and healthy nutrient, it shouldn’t be used with the sun. There have been a few research articles in rats to show that vitamin A on the skin, when exposed to UV, increases the risk of skin cancer by 21%!!! Again, another reason to learn to read what is actually in your sunscreen products.
Another place I like to search for answers is Cochrane, which is an independent online site which systematically reviews all reliable research studies. It was interesting that when I investigated sunscreen and skin cancer, Cochrane only found one (only ONE!!!) reliable study to review regarding the association of whether sunscreen prevents skin cancer. The study concluded that there was no difference between the number of people who developed BCC or cSCC in the two groups (ppl who use sunscreen daily vs only occasionally) over the time period of the trial. This opens up lots of questions – does sunscreen actually prevent skin cancer? Is it the sun that causes skin cancer? Or are there other variables at play?
I LOVE the sun! It makes me happy. I feel depressed without it. It’s essential for our health and wellbeing on all physical, emotional and spiritual levels. It’s a great source of Vit D. Now, I’m not saying to run around in the nud for the whole day soaking up the UV rays. You still need to be sensible and cover up for some of the time, or use a natural sunscreen. I don’t believe it’s healthy getting sunburnt all the time – at the very least, you’ll get very wrinkly and spotty fast! The best bet would be to get short bouts of unprotected sun for Vit D and happiness, and then cover up, or stay in the shade, or use a mineral based sunscreen that DOES NOT contain Vitamin A or synthetic chemicals. I may sound presumptuous, but if any company or organisation advocates using a synthetic sunscreen (as opposed to a natural one), then I would question their intentions (the sunscreen industry is a multi billion dollar industry after all!!).
I like to make my own balm with sunscreen. Me and my babes have been using it all summer and it works amazing at protecting us from the elements. My girls call it the ‘ghost cream’ because they run away before I can rub it. All good, slap it on nice and thick. The balm nourishes, while also protects – on so many different levels! I’m going to be sharing my recipe at our next DIY Toxin-Free Hygiene+Suncare Workshop next Friday (27 Jan) at 7pm so be sure to book in!
***Me and my babe slapped up and sun smart…the natural (aka the real smart) way ***