Well it’s finally summer, and we can capitalize on the fact that outdoors is the safest place to be (even the CDC has published recommendations that all windows in homes, offices, and schools be kept open to increase venhilation) you can take advantage of the fact that sunlight is naturally germicidal and the Vitamin D boost you get is naturally immune boosting and move all of your indoor activities outside!
So this brings up concerns about skin cancer and photo aging effects from sun exposure — but don’t let that stop you from going outside. Here’s why.
A large medical study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine found that folks who avoided sun exposure actually had a shorter life span… with a decreased life expectancy that was shorter than even heavy smokers who bathed in the sun.
This was a huge study looked at almost 30,000 participants over a span of 20 years. Researchers tracked health outcomes and life span over two decades 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 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.
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!
This on top of recent research revealing that melanomas that occur in patients with low Vitamin D actually have more malignantly aggressive melanoma and their prognosis is worse than those 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.
So the verdict: under-exposure to the sun is actually dangerous.
Smoking and inactivity/prolonged sitting have long been known to be huge lifestyle indicators of poor long term health… and now we can add a third: avoiding sun exposure.
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!
I’ll just tell you upfront that sunscreen is not my number one recommendation for prevention of skin cancer.
Nor is it my second recommendation either.
I prefer to avoid peak sun hours and use sun protective clothing like rashguards, hats and sunglasses.
- Some 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.
- 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 even 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 after 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. Yuck.
- More bad news… mineral based sunscreens are increasingly being made in nano-sized particles so that they blend into the skin better… and unfortunately, this means they can potentially be absorbed systemically as well. Even mineral based sunscreens like zinc or titanium dioxide are potentially toxic if they enter your body, so you want to be sure your product does not use nanoparticles.
And in fact, a study (presented at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting on Nov 19, 2016) shows that sunscreen did not have the ability to reduce melanoma risk.
466 children (enrolled in the study at age 6) were followed for almost a decade (through age 15) 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.
- 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, are different. These physically sit on top of the skin and literally block UV radiation from even reaching your skin.
- Physically blocking sunscreens is the type of sun protection you want, and this is the only type of sunscreen I will carry in my online shop for you.
Top 6 Things You Can Do To Decrease Your Skin Cancer Risk:
1. Avoid Peak Sun Hours:
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 wasthird 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, Hats and Sunglasses:
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:
If you like a lotion, this one is my absolute favorite. It goes on easily and with less white residue than any other physically blocking sunscreen I’ve tried that is not nanosized.
If you like a powder, this one is my absolute favorite. It is the ultimate in portability (won’t spill in your purse or bag!) and is so easy to apply.
If you like a spray, this one is my absolute favorite. It sprays on clear and is perfect for easily covering large areas of the body… or kids that can’t stand being smeared with lotion, lol!
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 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 (Vit B3, also known as Niacinamide) 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.
6. Eat fruits and veggies daily, especially during the summer:
Medical studies have shown that eating foods rich in carotenoids (like ) and lycopene (like tomatoes) have a photo protective effect in human skin, and have even been shown to cut the number of tumors from UV light exposure on mice significantly… actually slashing the tumor count in half!
Foods to eat daily that not only provide this photoprotection to decrease skin cancer risk, but also to protect against premature aging as well, include:
- sweet potatoes
- and sweet red peppers
Enjoy that life giving, mood boosting, beautifully warm radiant sunshine this summer, but do it in a way that protects your skin from too much exposure:
Try to avoid peak hours of sun exposure, going out in morning and evening hours when possible
Wear a hat and sunglasses
Avoid yucky chemical sunscreens and use physical sunscreens instead
Consider using curcumin and vit B3 to decrease your future skin cancer risk
Eat fruits and veggies high in antioxidants routinely to nourish your skin from the inside out
& while you are at it, stay well hydrated too, drinking water before, during and after sun exposure.
Next week I’ll be blogging for you how to naturally trouble shoot when summer skin woes have got you down… you won’t want to miss that one.
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