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This is no longer seen as alternative news or ‘conspiracy,’ not long ago what alternative health research has been saying for years is now admitted in the mainstream: most sunscreens on the market actually speed up your risk of skin cancer; as opposed to protecting you due to their ingredients. Although they can protect against sunburns, what is the health related cost of using them? And are we getting the vitamin D from the sun that our bodies need if we use sunscreen?

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Can the sun really cause cancer? This is tough to say to be honest. In research found throughout medical journals there isn’t a clear answer for this. After all, in the 1930’s rates of skin cancer were incredibly low and people were outside as much -if not more than we are today. Yes rates of cancer have gone up 1800% in the past 30 years, but is the sun and depleted ozone to blame?[4]

While many believe and repeat the motto that the sun is the cause, much research has shown that there are a number of factors involved in  developing skin cancer. Even more, the research of some has suggested that the sun actually prevents skin cancer and that burning is the body’s way of telling you have gotten too much. Tests done by Dr. Leonard Coldwell for example, have shown that patients with skin cancer actually saw their skin cancer go away after simple treatments and sun exposure. More about that is in the video below. But to be clear, there is research on both sides of the coin when it comes to the sun causing skin cancer and to say there is a clear link would be an incorrect statement.

In truth, research has shown that there doesn’t seem to be a link in areas of sun exposure and where melanoma pops up. There also isn’t a link between skin cancer and countries closer to the equator where sun exposure would be grater.[3] If the sun was the main cause of skin cancer how does one explain getting skin cancer on areas that never touch the sun like the plantar surface of heel? There are clearly links we are missing here. Research done on indoor and outdoor tanning has also shown that neither are to blame as there are people getting skin cancer each year who have never used a tanning bed. Even more interesting, there are no clear patterns of skin cancer rates (melanoma) in all the geographical locations of the US to suggest any link to the sun.

melanoma_rates

Rates of melanoma in the US.

While I think burning your skin is not healthy for it and can lead to DNA damage that could invite the production of cancer to those areas, I believe there are a number of factors involved including nutrition and vitamin intake that play a huge role. Like Dr. Coldwell stated, a vitamin D deficiency is a breeding ground for any issue and so getting enough sun is important.

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Only 10 percent of all cancer cases are attributed to all forms of radiation, and UV is a very small part of that.[2] When we think of skin cancer we automatically want to blame the Sun, but we rarely think of all the other factors involved such as the proven toxic and cancer causing chemicals we put on our skin everyday found in soaps, make-up, shampoo, creams and more. Isn’t it possible that constant daily exposure to these items found to cause cancer, play a bigger role than the sun, which we are only exposed to for short periods of times throughout the day?

Toxic Sunscreens

Not long ago it became mainstream news that various chemicals found in popular sunscreens actually cause cancer. How ironic.

  • Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), including octyl-dimethyl PABA
  • Benzophenones, especially benzophenone-3, Oxybenzone
  • Cinnamates, namely octyl-methoxycinnamate (OMC)
  • Homosalate
  • 4-methyl-benzylidene camphor (4-MBC)
  • Retinyl Palmitate

The two most popular chemicals you will notice as an active ingredient are retinyl palmitate and oxybenzone.

Retinyl Palmitate is a form of topical vitamin A used in sunscreens. However, when exposed to sunlight for long periods of time, it has been found to increase the development of skin lesions and tumors. Due to its harmful effects, The Environmental Workings Group recommends that consumers avoid ALL products containing Retinyl Palmitate.[5] This means sunscreens and many cosmetic products.

Oxybenzone is a potential endocrine-disrupting chemical that can cause hormone disruption and cell damage. It is found in well over the majority of sunscreens on the market. I took a walk down to the local drug store to check out sunscreen before writing this and found that every single sunscreen available in the store contained Oxybenzone!  On top of this, there was not one mineral based (safe) natural option on the shelf!

Healthier Choices

When shopping for sunscreens be sure to read the labels and avoid buying sunscreens containing toxic chemicals. It may be tough to find, but a trip to a natural health store can often do the trick. Look for sunscreens that contain zinc and titanium minerals as opposed to the active ingredients listed above. Remember, the best sun protection is wearing clothing to protect you and finding shade. Only use sunscreens when absolutely necessary. It is not necessary you wear sunscreen every time you are out in the sun. Sunscreen does NOT allow the body to absorb any vitamin D from sunlight. So if you plan on being outside for a short period of time, skip the sunscreen and feed your body the vitamin D that will keep it healthy.

Coconut oil has been shown to provide an SPF of about 8 when it comes to sun protection.[1] This means that although it’s protection isn’t very high, it can help. If you were to apply it often, it would not only offer sun protection, but it would also hydrate the skin making it less susceptible to burning. You may also want to try combining natural sunscreens with coconut oil for protection. To do this, at the beginning of your long day out in the sun, use natural sunscreen, after a few hours, try applying coconut oil to supplement the natural sunscreen and hydrate the skin.

Have you tried using coconut oil as sunscreen before? Or do you use natural products? Share your results with the community as it’s very helpful for those of us looking for healthier options.

Sources:

1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3140123/

2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2515569/

3. http://www.research.noaa.gov/climate/t_ozonelayer.html

4. www.cancer.org & www.skincancer.org

5. http://www.ewg.org/2012sunscreen/sunscreens-exposed/the-problem-with-vitamin-a/

http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/pick-your-poison-%E2%80%93-sunscreens-vs-sunburns-1


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