Sunscreen May Not Reduce Melanoma Risk (Here is what can…)

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A new study (presented at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting on Nov 19, 2016) shows that sunscreen did not have the ability to reduce future melanoma risk.

 

466 children (enrolled in the study at age 6) were followed for almost a decade (through age 15) and with a detailed report of annual sun exposure and sunscreen use as well as annual skin exams, which identified and documented skin lesions.

This is the longest term study on new mole development ever conducted.

And unfortunately, the results reveal that there was no association between sunscreen use and subsequent development of new pigmented lesions.

Meaning sunscreen use did not protect from or decrease the likelihood of developing pigmented moles (a marker of melanoma risk) at all.

 

While sunscreen may be protective against other forms of skin cancer, this news is upsetting because over 75,000 cases of melanoma are diagnosed every year just in the United States alone, and melanoma is a particularly aggressive form of cancer.

But I’m not surprised.  To understand why the most common sunscreens (which is are all chemical based) are not preventing new pigmented lesions from arising, you have to understand how chemical sunscreens work:
  • Chemical sunscreens (such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate and avobenzone) are absorbed into your skin and attempt to neutralize the UV rays once they penetrate your cells, by chemically reacting to the UV radiation.

 

  • This means that the UV exposure is already reaching into your living tissues, and as a physician I don’t see how this can be cancer preventive.

 

  • Your cells are already exposed to the UV radiation (including your cell’s DNA) by the time it is being neutralized.

 

Physically blocking sunscreens, such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, physically sit on top of the skin and literally block UV radiation from even reaching your skin.  This is the type of sun protection you want.
  • Yes it is white and thick and annoying, but that’s how it works.  You do NOT want it to be nano-sized — as then it is just as harmful as the chemically based sunscreens.  It will go on more clear but that is only because it is now small enough to be directly absorbed into the skin and will meet the UV radiation inside of your skin cells, where we do not want it, exactly like chemical sunscreens do.
  • On top of the fact that chemical sunscreens allow the UV radiation to penetrate your skin, some of the chemicals in sunscreen (like the oils, petroleum products, and retinyl palmitate found in most sunscreens) have been shown to actually increase the rates of skin cancer lesions when directly applied to the skin.

 

  • And on top of that, many of the chemicals in chemical blocking sunscreens are shown to disrupt our natural hormone pathways.

 

  • In fact, oxybenzone, the most common chemical sunscreen used, has been shown to disrupt hormones and is *not* (repeat NOT) recommended for use in children. That’s right… look at all the “kid’s formula” sunscreens out there… they generally contain oxybenzone.  This chemical not only is a hormone-disruptor, but it is particularly well absorbed (which is why it is so commonly used) so applying to your skin it becomes internally absorbed within minutes.

 

  • Which means children, who are still growing, are getting systemic doses of hormone-disrupting oxybenzone circulating through their bodies on a daily basis all summer long.

 

sunshine

You don’t want to avoid sun exposure all together,

you just want to be smart about it.

 

 And I really mean it when I say you don’t want to avoid all sun exposure.
In fact, a recent article, published in the Journal of Internal Medicine on March 16, 2016, found that folks who avoided sun exposure had a decreased life expectancy, more decreased than the life expectancy of heavy smokers.  This study looked at almost 30,000 participants (females ages 25 – 64 year old with no history of malignancy) over a span of 20 years.  Researchers followed participants for over 20 years and tracked health outcomes and life span, and found that even when smoking was factored in, the life span of those who avoided the sun was  over 2 years shorter than heavy smokers who got the highest amount of sun exposure!!!

So even heavy smokers who soaked in the sun their whole life

outlived non-smokers who avoided sun exposure… by several years.

 

 

Participants who avoided the sun had higher rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and pulmonary disease.  And the results were dose-specific… meaning that the benefits of increased life expectancy with sun exposure went up directly in correlation to the amount of sun exposure.

Longer time in the sun = longer life span.  That simple.

 

And yes, though risk of skin cancer did increase with increased sun exposure, the patients that had skin cancer occur in relation to sun exposure actually had a better long-term prognosis!

In fact, recent research reveals that melanomas that occur in patients with low Vitamin D actually have more malignantly aggressive melanoma and that their prognosis is worse than patients with adequate Vit D from sun exposure.

These results show that avoiding the sun is a “risk factor for death of a similar magnitude as smoking” — directly quoting the medical report.

 

organic sunscreen recommendation

 

You know that I never ever ever present negative medical information without giving you tons of positive solutions!!

 

So you know if I am bringing it up on my blog here, then there are TONS of things you can do to make your time out in the sunshine safer for your skin, while boosting your whole-body disease prevention and prolonging your life span!

 

So Today… Here are The

Top 5 Things You Can Do To Decrease Your Skin Cancer Risk:

1.  Avoid Peak Sun Hours:

 

DSC_0291

The most important #1 way to protect from ultraviolet exposure is to avoid the sun during the peak UV hours in mid-day.

There was a huge medical study that backs this up… Sunscreen was third in order of most effective ways to protect yourself from sun damage and skin cancers.

The ultimate solution, when possible, is sun avoidance during peak sun hours (10AM – 4PM) — this is infinitely better than any sun protection.

You want to get some incidental sun exposure on some exposed skin daily, but to decrease the UV intensity you want that exposure to be in the earlier AM or later PM hours!

 

2.  Wear UV Protective Clothing and UV Blocking Sunglasses Instead Of Sunscreen:

 

The second best way to protect from the sun, if you are going out in the peak hours, is UV protective clothing.

Rash guards, hats, sunglasses.

Be certain to protect your eyes by wearing UV protective sunglasses, dear reader! UV exposure is one of the leading causes of lens opacity (cataracts) as you age. You can prevent this by diligently protecting your eyes.

 

 

3.   Use Only Physically Blocking, Non-Nano Sized Sunscreens

 

A non-nanosized, non-chemical based sunscreen like this one, which I love so much and is the sunscreen I put on my own face every single day.

It goes on more easily and with less white residue than any other physically blocking sunscreen I’ve tried that is not nanosized.

 

 

4.  Take Curcumin To Protect Against Melanoma

 

Did you know that Curcumin actually kills cancer cells in laboratory studies and has been specifically shown to target and kill melanoma cancer cells?   Read this study published in the International Journal of Cancer in October 2016 for a good overview on what we know about curcumin and melanoma so far.

If you want to add the anti-cancer benefits of curcumin to your health regime (which I highly recommend if you have any personal or family history of melanoma or even if you just have a history of intense sun exposure) I recommend taking a pharmacy grade supplement like this one that couples a 500 mg dose of curcumin with bioperine to help increase the bioavailablility and absorption of the curcumin.

 

5.  Use Vitamin B3 to decrease all other forms of skin cancer

 

Clear evidence that a simple vitamin can be cancer preventive:  Vitamin B3 dramatically reduces skin cancer rates.

Presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) 2015 Annual Meeting in May 2014, Vitamin B3 has been shown to be a safe, effective way to reduce your risk of recurrent skin cancer.

Researchers looked at over 380 patients with a prior history of non-melanoma skin cancers, giving half nicotinamide supplements and half a placebo, and followed them for a year.  They found the patients in the Vitamin B3 group had a quarter less skin cancers total (a 23% decrease) than control patients:

  • Basal cell occurrence decreased by 20%
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma decreased by 30%
  • Actinic Keratosis decreased by 13%

Nicotinamide enhances DNA repair in skin cells damaged by UV light, as well as boosts the immune system and prevents the suppression of immunity by ultraviolet radiation.  (Nicotinamide has other benefits as well, including preliminary studies showing a boost in cognition… helping to restore cognition in Alzheimers!)

So… if you have a history of serious sun exposure?  Or a history of previous skin cancers?  Or you just want less unsightly actinic keretosis popping up in the future?

Vitamin B 3  offers 100% all natural holistic chemo-prevention!  Vitamin B is safe, inexpensive, proven.

I like to apply it topically directly on my face and other areas (like the neck) where there has been chronic sun exposure throughout my life.

This Vit B3 serum is the same serum I recommend in my Skin Happiness Online skin makeover class and is available for you as well, right here.

 

 

Enjoy that life giving, mood boosting, beautifully warm radiant sunshine this summer…

…but do it in a way that you protect your skin from too much exposure:  try to avoid peak hours of sun exposure, avoid yucky chemical sunscreens and use physical sunscreens instead, and consider using curcumin and vit B3 to decrease your future skin cancer risk.

xoxox, Laura