Do you Avoid the Sun or Love the Sun? Sun, Sunscreen, and Cancer
As the weather gets nicer and we start to enjoy the outdoors more, do you tend to AVOID the sun or LOVE (and respect) the sun? A 2014 study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine followed almost 30,000 women over the course of 20 years and the conclusion of the study: Avoiding sun exposure is a risk for all-cause mortality. Not only is avoiding sun exposure a risk, the major finding of the study was - women who avoided sun exposure were 2x more likely to die early than those who sunbathed regularly.1
This goes against everything we hear through media and marketing! Sunlight causes cancer right?
Most people who avoid the sun do so to avoid the risk of melanoma, or skin cancer, a legitimate fear in the minds of most Americans. What they fail to realize is that by avoiding the sun they are actually increasing their risk. In fact, even the link between sun exposure and melanoma is debated in the actual science.
“The link between melanoma and sun exposure is unproven. There’s no conclusive evidence that sunburns lead to cancer. There is no real proof that sunscreens protect against melanoma. There’s no proof that increased exposure to the sun increases the risk of melanoma.”
–Dr. Bernard Ackerman M.D., one of the world’s foremost authorities on the subject of sun, sunscreen, and skin cancer.
This is in part due to the incredibly important sun exposure causes the body to produce the hormone called Vitamin D3, which actually helps prevent against many diseases including cancer, diabetes, and degenerative diseases. Sunscreen blocks UV ray absorption, which causes the body to produce less Vitamin D3, effectively blocking cancer fighting. In today’s culture, it’s estimated that 80%+ are deficient in Vitamin D3.
In fact, a 2000 Swedish study looked at melanoma rates with people who used sunscreen more or less often. What they found was that not only did sunscreen not decrease the rate of melanoma, it actually increased the rate of melanoma in people who used it more often!*2
I’m not suggesting you need to turn into a bronzed statue. I’m not suggesting you deliberately spend lots of time fully exposed to the mid-day sunlight. I’m definitely not suggesting you get any sunburned skin. I’m only suggesting that you challenge the status quo and think differently about sunlight and conventional sunscreen use (which is full of toxic ingredients). Here are a couple real-life suggestions to protect yourself while at the same time exposing yourself to a safe amount of sunlight regularly:
Cover yourself up, and cover your kids up. Lightweight long-sleeve tops work great as a sun-cover without being too hot. Our ancestors (not very long ago) would wear long sleeve shirts and pants all year long and still get plenty of sun exposure just from being outside. Hats are easy, sunglasses are easy too. Even if you forget these things you can always pick them up at a gas station and it’s probably better than picking up gas station sunscreen brands. Baby swimsuits are really cute, but put a shirt and pants on the kids after too long. Our girls have bucket hats and lightweight cover-alls, and sometimes they wear long-sleeve rashguard-type swimsuit tops to cover their arms.
If you are going to the pool or the beach or the waterpark, find a high-quality, non-toxic sunscreen that you like. There are many homemade DIY recipes that you can make, but if you don’t want to make your own you can check www.ewg.org for their Sunscreen Guide and find a brand that you trust. We personally use a sunscreen from Pure Haven Essentials.
Take smaller doses of sunlight more often. Spending a few minutes a day is much better for your vitamin D3 production. Think about it like the Vitamin D3 that you might take as a supplement. You don’t necessarily want to take a ton at once. It’s designed to be taken on a regular basis in small doses (I recommend 5,000 IU even in the summer unless you are exposed to the sun very often). Go out for 45-60 minutes in the morning or evening, or 30 minutes in the mid-day sun and maybe just let your face, neck, and arms be exposed to the sun. Like exercise, chiropractic, supplements, etc...a little bit on a regular basis goes a really long way.
Avoidance of sum exposure is a risk factor for all-cause mortality: results from the Melanoma in Southern Sweden cohort. Journal of Internal Medicine Volume 276, Issue 1, pages 77-86, July 2014.
Sunscreen use and malignant melanoma. Int J Cancer. 2000 Jul 1;87(1):145-50.