Tuesday, June 17, 2008

To Sunscreen or Not To Sunscreen

Summer is here and the same old problems associated with it are here too. To choose between so many sunscreens is quite challenging; and then to decide whether to use it all the time or not it is another challenge. It is well documented that people are getting too less Vitamin D (essential for helping people to fight the winter germs, summer colds, depression, aches and pains, diabetic afflictions, heart disease, and a wide range of cancers).

Let’s take the challenge of choosing the right sunscreen. The Skin Deep database findings indicate that out of 1000 sunscreens only 15 % of them provide minimal health risk and adequate sun protection. It seems that the majority of the sunscreens do not protect against UVA rays while the UVB rays are measures in SPF. Both types of rays lead to skin damage and skin cancer. On the other side, 95% of Americans have oxybenzone (an ingredient found in sunscreens, linked to cell damage, allergies and hormone disruption) in their bloodstream. Therefore, choosing the right sunscreen it is hard.

Here are some things to take in consideration:
  1. Check the Skin Deep database to find a sunscreen with less health effects and to protect you from both UVA and UVB rays.
  2. Choose a sunscreen with SPF 30 (after that number the protection increases very little – by 1% to 3%). SPF is a rating for only UVB rays, not UVA rays.
  3. Check the list of ingredients for UVA blockers: Mexoryl, Zinc oxide, Titanium dioxide, Ecamsule.
  4. Follow the instructions on the side and apply the sunscreen correctly; for example, if is says to apply it 20 minutes before going in the sun and every 2 hours – then this is the right thing to do.
  5. Be careful to the sunscreens that claim to be water-proof/water-resistant because the FDA says that these formulas do not dissolve in water but they can be washed off.
Now let's take the challenge of choosing how much sun is enough. There is lots of controversy about this issue; some are arguing that people should stay in the sun at least 15 minutes every day; others are proposing supplements of Vitamin D; and others are using the fact that sunscreens are not efficient so people can get enough Vitamin D. It is hard to reach a conclusion and to decide what to do. It seems that it is the UVB that forms the precursors of Vitamin D in the skin but when is too much it can damage the skin. Whatever decision you make, you need to make sure is the best for your health.

The American Academy of Dermatology provides some guidelines to help us protect from skin cancer and still have fun in the sun.

"Generously apply a water-resistant sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15 that provides broad-spectrum protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays to all exposed skin. Re-apply every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating. Look for the AAD SEAL OF RECOGNITIONTM on products that meet these criteria.

Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, where possible.

Seek shade when appropriate, remembering that the sun's rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade.

Protect children from sun exposure by playing in the shade, using protective clothing and applying sunscreen.

Use extra caution near water, snow and sand as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn.

Get vitamin D safely through a healthy diet that may include vitamin supplements. Don't seek the sun.

Avoid tanning beds.Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkling. If you want to look like you've been in the sun, consider using a sunless self-tanning product, but continue to use sunscreen with it.

Check your birthday suit on your birthday. If you notice anything changing, growing or bleeding on your skin, see a dermatologist. Skin cancer is very treatable when caught early."

Given all the chemical ingredients in the sunscreen, I wonder where is the cancer coming from; it is coming more from the sun or it is also coming from the sunscreen and self-tanning products? And I wonder whether the natural way of getting vitamin D might be better than the supplements? After all, the dermatologists care about your skin, not the vitamin D.

Here's the sunscreen I have selected for my kids, one that has no offending substances, does the job and you can still pay for the vacation and buying it.

2 comments:

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CouponAlbum said...

Useful post!! It is really not east to choose best sunscreen!! Thanks for the help!!