Any public health or mainstream medical warning about the sun always emphasizes "damage".
"Be careful between the hours of 12-2 to reduce sun damage."
"To reduce sun damage, be sure to use a minimum of SPF 30"
"You must protect yourself from the damaging effects of the sun"
These messages are everywhere throughout every communication medium. I've got news for you...the sun does not damage your skin any more than walking damages your feet. It's part of nature. It's been around for billions of years and this planet would not survive without the sun and neither would you. So don't think of it as damage, but part of the normal process of living on Earth and accepting all the health benefits the sun has to offer you. It nourishes the body and gives life to nature.
Few people realize that spending an average of three hours a day exposed to sunlight can slash the risk of by up to 50 percent.
Don't Be Scared Of The Sun
Being scared of the sun is like being afraid of water--small doses will never harm you, but take in huge amounts of either and you could have a problem. Just as you must respect the water, you must also respect the sun. It's not about fearing the sun's rays but knowing your limits.
Yes, the sun will age your skin and affect your DNA, but that is essentially a normal process. The idea that sunscreen prevents cancer is a myth promoted by pharmaceutical companies, conventional medicine and the mainstream media for one purpose...profit. The sunscreen industry makes money by selling lotion products that actually contain cancer-causing chemicals. It then donates a portion of that money to the cancer industry through non-profit groups like Cancer Societies which, in turn, run heart-breaking public service ads urging people to use sunscreen to "prevent cancer."
Unless you have a thick layer of zinc paste on your body, no matter what sun protection you use, you are being bombarded by ultraviolet rays with extended time in the sun.
When you use sunscreens, regardless of SPF protection level, you can sustain significant damage to your skin through added inflammation from the ingredients themselves. Please do not confuse a lack of redness with a lack of damage. Any so-called damage to the skin is only magnified with sunscreen. Collagen, elastin and other forms of skin damage occur with extended time in the sun while using specific sunscreen chemicals. A "sunburn", redness, and pain are the direct result of the swelling, increased circulation and an inflammatory cascade that were stimulated by the DNA lesion. This is not something that causes cancer in a healthy body. If it were, the majority of our ancestors who had up to five times greater daily exposure to the outdoors than we do today would have all died from skin cancer.
The sun does not cause cancer. Researchers have concluded that UVA exposure has not contributed to the rise in the incidence of melanoma over the past 30 years. UVA makes up 90 percent of the ultraviolet light spectrum of sunlight.
"Our data refute the only direct evidence that UVA causes melanoma, which is not to say that UVA is harmless," said the study's lead author David Mitchell, Ph.D., professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Carcinogenesis located at its Science Park -- Research Division in Smithville, Texas. "UVA is just not as dangerous as we thought because it doesn't cause melanoma."
No scientific literature has ever proven that sunlight causes cancer in human beings. Most studies that have attempted to find a cause have only found correlations and many scientists have established the toxicity level of the human body which reacts with the UV spectrum is what causes cancer, not the sunlight itself.
Both UVA and UVB can cause tanning and burning, although UVB does so far more rapidly. UVA, however, penetrates your skin more deeply than UVB.
UVB appears to be protective against melanoma -- or rather, the vitamin D your body produces in response to UVB radiation is protective.
As written in The Lancet:
"Paradoxically, outdoor workers have a decreased risk of melanoma compared with indoor workers, suggesting that chronic sunlight exposure can have a protective effect."
So if UVA and UVB do not cause melanoma, why use sunscreen?
Skin cancer rates are increasing and the so-called experts are STILL blaming the sun for a problem manufactured right here on earth.
If the sun was REALLY causing skin cancer, and if sunscreen prevented it, we’d be cancer-free by now. We’re already spending less time outside than ever, and wasting billions of dollars a year on needless, dangerous creams and lotions.
It Is Essential To Expose Your Bare Skin To The Sun
It's amazing how many people ask me "well what am I supposed to do when I go out in the sun for long periods without sunscreen." What do you think our ancestors did? They exposed themselves in moderation. They would use clothing, spend time in the shade or indoors if they've exceeded their exposure limit. Do the same and don't spend more time than necessary that will lead to burning. But justifying more time outside in the sun, exceeding your exposure limit and only because you are wearing sunscreen, is truly an unhealthy approach to sun exposure.
Optimum vitamin D levels are obtained by simply exposing your bare skin to the sun. Blocking the sun's rays from reaching our skin dramatically influences our optimal vitamin D levels, leading to higher mortality, critical illness and mental health disorders.
There is unfortunately a large emphasis in current vitamin D research that overstates the benefits of vitamin D supplementation on the conclusions of studies conducted on UV exposure from the sun. Such disparities in reporting have obviously increased the supplement market for this valuable nutrient, however vitamin D from sunlight exposure and supplementation may not be interchangeable in terms of effectiveness.
Exposure to ultraviolet B radiation in sunlight provides the mechanism for more than 90% of the vitamin D production in most individuals. The widespread use of sunscreens, particularly those with high sun protection factors (SPF), may lead to a significant decrease in solar-induced previtamin D3 in the skin, resulting in a vitamin D level which is insufficient for protection against a wide range of diseases.
Exposure to sunlight and ultraviolet light has been repeatedly shown to NOT be the cause of skin cancer. Scientists from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center reported UVA exposure is unlikely to have contributed to the rise in the incidence of melanoma over the past 30 years.
INGREDIENTS TO AVOID:
Oxybenzone This penetration enhancer (i.e., chemical that helps other chemicals penetrate the skin) undergoes a chemical reaction when exposed to UV rays. When oxybenzone is absorbed by your skin, it can cause an eczema-like allergic reaction that can spread beyond the exposed area and last long after you're out of the sun. Experts also suspect that oxybenzone disrupts hormones (i.e., mimics, blocks, and alters hormone levels) which can throw off your endocrine system. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 97 percent of Americans have this chemical circulating in our bodies, as it can accumulate more quickly than our bodies can get rid of it.
Octinoxate One of the most common ingredients found in sunscreens with SPF, octinoxate is readily absorbed by our skin and helps other ingredients to be absorbed more readily. While allergic reactions from octinoxate aren't common, hormone disruption is: the chemical's effects on estrogen can be harmful for humans and wildlife, too, should they come into contact with the chemical once it gets into water. Though SPF products are designed to protect skin from sun-induced aging, octinoxate may actually be a culprit for premature aging, as it produces menacing free radicals that can damage skin and cells.
Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A Palmitate) Just like the vitamin A we eat, retinyl palmitate is an antioxidant. As an ingredient in sunscreen, it's function is to improve the product's performance against the aging effects of UV exposure, However, certain forms of vitamin A found in sun protection products--namely retinyl palmitate, a combination of retinol (vitamin A) and palmitic acid, an ingredient found in tropical plants such as palm and coconut--can be cause for concern. When exposed to the sun's UV rays, retinol compounds break down and produce destructive free radicals that are toxic to cells, damage DNA, and may lead to cancer. In fact, FDA studies have shown that retinyl palimitate may speed the development of malignant cells and skin tumors when applied to skin before sun exposure, so steer clear of skin sun products that harbor the stuff.
Homosalate This UV-absorbing sunscreen ingredient helps sunscreen to penetrate your skin. Once the ingredient has been absorbed, homosalate accumulates in our bodies faster than we can get rid of it, becomes toxic and disrupts our hormones.
Octocrylene When this chemical is exposed to UV light, it absorbs the rays and produces oxygen radicals that can damage cells and cause mutations. It is readily absorbed by your skin and may accumulate within your body in measurable amounts. Plus, it can be toxic to the environment.
Paraben Preservatives Associated with both acute and chronic side effects, parabens (butyl-, ethyl-, methyl-, and propyl-) can induce allergic reactions, hormone disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity. While butylparaben was reported to be non-carcinogenic in rats and mice, but it has been previously suspected that parabens and other chemicals in underarm cosmetics may contribute to the rising incidence of breast cancer.
Comprehensive scientific reviews indicate that 83% of 785 sunscreen products contain ingredients with significant safety concerns. Only 17% of the products on the market block both UVA and UVB radiation which is the intended purpose by manufacturers of sunscreen, so what's the point? The assessment by the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database was based on a review of nearly 400 scientific studies, industry models of sunscreen efficacy, and toxicity and regulatory information housed in nearly 60 government, academic, and industry databases.
At least 50% of products on the market bear claims that are considered "unacceptable" or misleading under sunscreen safety standards. An analysis of marketing claims on hundreds of sunscreen bottles shows that false and misleading marketing claims are common. They give consumers a false sense of security (based on myths) with claims like "all day protection," "mild as water," and "blocks all harmful rays" which are completely untrue, yet are found on bottles. Consumers might assume that, because researchers have implicated ultraviolet light in skin cancer development, sunscreen automatically thwarts skin cancer. They play on this consumer bandwagon of fear and hope on an issue shouldn't even be an issue...blocking the sun!
Almost half of the 500 most popular sunscreen products may actually increase the speed at which malignant cells develop and spread skin cancer because they contain vitamin A or its derivatives retinol and retinyl palmitate which accelerate tumor growth.
Scientists have reported that particle size affects the toxicity of zinc oxide, a material widely used in sunscreens. Particles smaller than 100 nanometers are slightly more toxic to colon cells than conventional zinc oxide. Solid zinc oxide was more toxic than equivalent amounts of soluble zinc, and direct particle to cell contact was required to cause cell death. Their study is in ACS' Chemical Research in Toxicology, a monthly journal.
Another common and toxic ingredient in sunscreens is titanium dioxide. New research published in ACS' journal, Environmental Science & Technology found that Children may be receiving the highest exposure to nanoparticles of titanium dioxide. The geometry of titanium dioxide (TiO2) based nanofilaments appears to play a crucial role in cytotoxicity having a strong dose-dependent effect on cell proliferation and cell death.
Make Your Own Suncreen
Most of the commercialized versions are filled with toxic additives and preservatives. Even children's sunscreens contain many dangerous chemicals. Here is an excellent recipe for a non-toxic sunscreen that contains natural ingredients and will keep your skin healthy and glowing while protecting you from the sun just long enough so you won't burn with moderate sun exposure.
Recipe: (SPF 8)
2 tablespoon Virgin Coconut Oil
1 tablespoon Shea Butter
1 tablespoon Carrot Seed Oil
1 tablespoon Avocado Oil
1/2 teaspoon Sesame Oil
1/2 teaspoon Aloe Vera Gel
Keep in mind that this recipe will not allow you to stay in the sun for hours without burning, even if you have darker skin. If you have pale skin and are prone to burning in very short periods, this recipe will only modestly protect you when UV rays are at their highest strength. Intermittent periods spent in the shade are highly recommended to balance the UV dose you receive.
For those that tan well, this lotion will give you an excellent color and glow if used daily while spending a minimum of 30 minutes in the sun.
Although it not waterproof, it is water resistant if applied thoroughly and spread evenly. In direct sunlight, you must reapply a thin layer of the lotion every half hour for optimal results.
Spread the word: Please promote the use of non-toxic sunscreens.
Marco Torres is a research specialist, writer and consumer advocate for healthy lifestyles. He holds degrees in Public Health and Environmental Science and is a professional speaker on topics such as disease prevention, environmental toxins and health policy.