- The incidence of melanoma is on the rise not the decline.
- 1 in 14 men and 1 in 24 women will be diagnosed with melanoma sometime in their life in Australia (2017).
- Australia has the highest rates of melanoma in the world, despite the huge awareness created with the ‘slip, slop, slap’ campaign and other proactive initiatives.
- Skin cancer is not common in children, however, the incidence of melanoma in children is increasing by 2 percent each year in the USA.
- And then why do some melanomas develop in places that never see the sun e.g. the bottom of the foot or the anus?
Generally, it seems what we’re doing isn’t helping.
And then consider;
- The skin is one of our largest organs. It’s most natural state is to be uncovered, exposed to the sun and weather, yet in our modern lives our skin rarely sees the light of day.
- Being such a large organ, it has important (vital) functions, other than protecting us in our environment;
- It’s the best source of Vitamin D i.e. via the sun on the skin. Vitamin D is metabolised into an absorbable form at the skins surface.
- Vitamin D is a hormone rather than a nutrient and is vital for strong immunity, healthy bones, anti-inflammatory, heart health, mood, weight management and much more.
- The majority of people across the world are vitamin D deficient.
- It fascinates me to learn the native noongar word, Ngarngk,is the same word for mother as it is for the word, sun. Mothers nurture and nourish, they give birth to life. What does this traditional culture understand about the sun that we don’t?
With the above in mind, the sun is incredibly therapeutic, and quite possibly the ultimate in natures medicine. It is our friend and not to be feared or considered our foe.
Why sunscreens are harmful.
1. Concerning ingredients.
- According to Dr Plourde, some chemicals in sunscreen are potent endocrine (hormone) disruptors and anti-testosterone. There is one chemical in particular this applies to, oxybenzone.
- Oxybenzone helps other chemicals better penetrate the skin. In a study done by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), itwas found in 97% of the population. It’s considered an endocrine (hormone) disruptor, linked to skin allergies, damages cells, can reduce sperm count in men and may affect endometriosis in women. In 2018 it was in 3,500 skin care productsand hasbeen found in USA water sources!
Hawaii has banned all sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate due to the toxicity and devastating affect on the coral reef. A few sunscreens now promote themselves as being ‘reef friendly’.
Zinc dioxide and titanium dioxide.
- According to Dr Plourde, it’s thenano sizeparticles that are damaging. In this form, they are readily absorbed into the skin and are not considered safe. These tiny, tiny molecules are able to get into the body, brain, liver, everywhere causing harm at the cellular level.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the USA proposes there are 12 other active ingredients commonly found in sunscreens, including oxybenzone, that need additional data from safety and efficacy testing. These ingredients are used in more than 50 percent of the 1,300 + sunscreens EWG has assessed for their 2019 sunscreen guide.
2. Inferior protection.
When we first get in the sun, antioxidants protect the skin naturally, which is why we don’t burn immediately. When these antioxidants diminish we no longer have the protection and that’s when the skin starts to turn red, burn and we need to retreat to the shade. It’s our bodies inbuilt warning, signalling us to take protection.
When sunscreen is used it only blocks the 4% that is UV (ultra violet) B, that’s responsible for burning the skin. When these rays are blocked we are able to stay in the sun longer than we naturally would. When we stay out longer, that’s when the 47% of sun that is infrared i.e. UV A, can penetrate deeper into the skin and into the mitochondria (the energy powerhouses of cells) and cause cellular damage.
So in staying in the sun longer we don’t burn, but our bodies are exposed to potentially more damaging UV light, causing long-term cellular damage. Some sunscreens now block the UV A as well. But this may not be the complete answer…
Dr Plourde says tanning is an important mechanism. It’s the bodies’ way of protecting our cells from damage long term. It creates melanin, which naturally protects the skin and cells from being oxidized (oxidation is when molecules are ‘lost’ and lose energy, creating free radicals which then contribute to cellular damage). Meaning, we ideally need to tan and without burning.
If you have fair skin, you might be thinking, ‘No way’, I just burn.
That was me too. I have fair skin and as a kid I burnt to a crisp and never really ‘tanned’! However, a few years ago I began to notice I tanned more easily and didn’t burn so easily! In fact people comment on my ‘tanned’ face. It’s taken time, but I sense my change in diet to a more whole foods diet and ‘cleaning up’ my home environment, and exposing my skin to the sun safely has helped improve my skins ability to metabolise melanin. I don’t know for sure and it’s hard to prove but it fits in with some of the research.
It’s important not to burn, and I’m not advocating that. However, if any of what I’m sharing resonates for you, trust your intuition.
If you’ve been doing the ‘right thing’, using sunscreen for many years, with the good intentions of protecting your skin, and slowing the aging process plus you’re doing great things with food and lifestyle, … but… you just can’t shift ‘stubborn weight’, or your hormones are imbalanced or blood sugars irregular or metabolism or have skin issues that won’t clear then perhaps there are ‘invisible’ endocrine (hormone) disruptors at play via sunscreen, beauty or personal hygiene products? Either way it’s worthwhile exploring.
Being sun smart.
Stay out of the sun during peak times of UV and infrared rays e.g. when it’s directly overhead.
Enjoy the sun in the early or later hours of the day. Monitor your skin to make sure it is not uncomfortable or turning red in the sun.
If you need to stay in the sun for long periods of time, use tight-weave clothing (hats, long-sleeve shirts, pants, etc.) to cover up when your skin has had enough sun.
2. Eat a bright rainbow.
A diet including more whole foods and foods that are rich in colour and antioxidants and give the body the protection it needs and access to the best source of vitamin D, the sun.
Antioxidant rich foods include;
- Astaxanthin (e.g. algae, salmon and krill)
- Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables
3. As shared above, avoid toxic ingredients on your skin (and ingested into your body).
4. Use a more natural sunscreen avoiding the chemicals and nano particles listed e.g. wotnot or soleo brands in Australia.
Anything we put on our skin has direct entry into the body and blood stream for circulation. It’s worthwhile auditing the products you’re using on your skin and your children’s skin, especially if it’s on a daily basis.
Every day we expose our bodies to a level of toxicity from our food and environment. If we aren’t consciously managing toxins, eventually they accumulate and will manifest dis-ease. Yet most of these exposures are easily managed. When we’re aware we can care.
Our skin needs exposure to the sunshine and for most of us it’s not getting enough. With Summer on the way it’s timely to check vitamin D levels and consider how much time your or your children’s’ skin sees the sun daily?
It’s recommended we use sunscreen everyday, even through winter. How can our skin ever do the job it’s so cleverly designed for, if it doesn’t see the sun?
When we cover our skin we prevent the metabolism of Vitamin D which in itself has been shown to be anti carcinogenic.
While sunscreens have a part to play in our sun protection, it’s likely there is more we can do to protect our skin from the inside out while honouring the vital and most natural relationship we have with the sun itself.
This is not medical advice it is my own personal insight based on my personal experience and science based research.
For more information on how to elevate your wellbeing, reduce toxins in your daily life and nourish your family with natures’ medicine, contact me, I’d love to hear from you.