Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sunshine, Sunscreen, Skin Cancer & Vitamin D

Last week I was on vacation in sunny Florida. For all of you Michiganders out there, you know how little sunshine we get in the wintertime. Michigan seems to be one of the only states that is covered with CONSTANT cloud cover in the winter... like a gray blanket. It seems like no matter how busy you keep yourself, the creeping doom and depression of a sunless season always comes, sooner or later. 

When we went to Florida I decided that I was going to take sunshine in moderation, starting slow to let my skin get used to its rays. Almost immediately I could feel the HAPPINESS of sunshine - the sweet little dance it does on your skin and inside of your body. 

It is really surprising how many people are afraid of sunshine. Many think sunshine causes skin cancer so they load their bodies with sunscreen. The truth is that sunscreen is said to cause cancer MORE than the actual sun! Many studies have been released that reveal the danger of sunscreen. The FDA knows about the results of these studies, however avoids alerting the public, and in fact, denies it all together. 

An article: "Could Sunscreens increase melanoma risk?" published in the American Journal of Public Health (Garland, Cedric F., et al - Vol. 82, No. 4, Apr 1992, pp. 614-15) revealed that the greatest rise of melanoma (skin cancer) in the world has been in countries that use and promote sunscreen. Queensland, Australia has an alarming increase in melanoma, and is said to have more incidences of melanoma per capita than any other place on Earth! The medical establishment in Queensland, Australia has vigorously promoted the use of sunscreen.  

In "Beneficial effects of sun exposure on cancer mortality" in Preventative Medicine (Vol. 22, February 1993, pp. 132-40), Dr. Gordon Ainsleigh explains that the use of sunscreen causes more cancer deaths than it prevents. He estimates that the 17% increase in breast cancer observed between 1981 and 1992 may be the result of the pervasive use of sunscreens over the past decade. 

M. Berwick from the University of New Mexico Cancer Center and Department of Internal Medicine, University of New Mexico, believes that sunscreens protect against sunburn, but there is no evidence that they protect against basal cell carcinoma or melanoma. He also explains that people who use sunscreen stay out in the sun much longer than people who do not wear sunscreen, which also contributes to skin cancer.

So, is this just another story of the FDA 'hiding' the harmful effects of substances? If the FDA was doing their job properly, safety studies would be completed on all drugs and all substances that consumers use. However, we see the FDA pulling products off the shelf every day because they haven't been tested properly, and they are being reported as having extremely harmful side effects (otherwise they wouldn't pull them off the shelf!).  As consumers we think the FDA is testing ALL products, however, it is the drug companies doing the testing. Can you say conflict of interest?! I have been involved in compiling research, and I know how easy it could be to write whatever conclusion you want to. Sadly, we see this happen all the time - with vaccinations, with pharmaceuticals, with GMOs, and more. 

"Anyone's life truly lived consists of work, sunshine, 
exercise, soap, plenty of fresh air, and a happy contented spirit. "
-Lillie Langtry

Sunshine & Vitamin D

Sunshine is so important for its vitamin D boosting benefits. 
A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine concluded that people with the lowest vitamin D levels have more than double the risk of dying from heart disease and other causes over an eight-year period compared with those with the highest vitamin D levels. Another study published in Archives of Internal Medicine concluded that lower levels of vitamin D are associated with a higher risk of heart attack.

When the sun's UV-B rays hit the skin, a reaction takes place where the skin is able is manufacture vitamin D. Sunscreen blocks the skins ability to do this, and thus, we gain no vitamin D when wearing sunscreen. 

A person with fair skin needs around 10 minutes of mid-day sun exposure per day to produce 10,000 IU of vitamin D. Dark skinned people need more time in the sunshine to produce this amount of vitamin D. 
All people need sunshine!

What to do to protect yourself

 I tend to have very fair skin, and I have found that coconut oil provides a bit of protection against sunburns. This isn't true for everyone, however. Coconut oil will provide protection for some, while it will not for others. 

Wear long sleeves and long pants. There are many options out there for very light clothing that you can wear to protect your skin from a sunburn, and yet stay cool in the hot summer climates.

DO NOT WEAR SUNSCREEN! There are many ingredients in sunscreen that have been proven to cause cancer in lab animals (and humans too!). If you feel like you are saturated enough, go out of the sun. If you are not able to then cover yourself with light clothing.

Sunshine deficiency is much more severe in our culture, and I believe that more people die from lack of sun than too much sun.

So, get out there. Enjoy the sun and its healing rays.


Svea is a traditional Naturopath, classical homeopath and holistic doula. Her private doula practice can be found here. Her Montreal Natural Fertility site can be found here

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