Years ago when Innovative Medicine was selling products to the public, we had a blog in which we allowed people to ask questions and we would have an alternative medicine practitioner answer them. And one of the most asked questions that people seemed to be very confused about was the use and benefits/dangers of sunscreen. Now that summer is again upon us, so the talk of the need of sunscreen arises. It used to be only fair skin people required sunscreen when laying out, but today it seems doctors, the government and sunscreen manufacturers are cautioning everyone to lather up in SPF 50 or higher if we are even going for a quick walk up the block. The sun has been made into this evil cancer-producing star that we need to avoid and “protect” ourselves from as much as possible. And who can blame conventional doctors and the government from making such announcements, with skin cancer rates rising. One article recently wrote “Despite efforts to inform the public about the risk of sun exposure, the rate of non-melanoma skin cancer in the U.S. is reaching epidemic proportions, with more than 2 million people affected, researchers said.” This is all scary stuff – and all because of that giant bright star in the center of our solar system.
Not exactly. First off, the Sun has supported existence on life for over 1 billion years. So let’s not knock the big guy. Now, onto the correlation of sun and skin cancer. Going back to my original point of the questions about sunscreen and looking at it from a biological viewpoint, here’s the answer my father (Thomas Szulc, M.D.) gave to that years ago :
We have to use common sense when talking about sun exposure. The sun sends a full spectrum of radiation – both positive and negative. Those that are fair skinned should not prolong exposure to the sun during hot summer days. That said, sunlight is very effective in stimulating our body positively (vitamin D production, elevated mood, etc.). Most people who have problems relating to exposure to the sun also have problems with lymphatic flow under the skin itself. Stimulating the skin of such people may bring toxins to the surface and may create some undesirable effects. These people should drink more fluids, exercise more and naturally eliminate toxins while controlling exposure to sunlight depending on their constitutional ability.
Everybody worries about UV exposure and the relation to melanoma and other cancers. But when looking at many developing countries that are close to the Equator and are exposed to intense sunlight, they do not have high levels of skin cancer (compared to developed countries with less sun exposure and intensity). It is the developed countries like the US that have the highest incidents of skin cancer. The reason for this is unlike most modern developed countries, inhabitants of poorer developing countries normally eat and live a more natural lifestyle, avoiding processed foods and chemicals. When you introduce more chemicals, toxins and pollutants into your lifestyle, the risk of health issues such as skin cancer from UV exposure increases.
If we turn our attention to sunscreen, we find a product that is packed with harmful chemicals, and little proof of efficiency in fighting cancer. The FDA has gone on record to say that the available clinical studies “do not demonstrate that even [broad spectrum products with SPF greater than 15] alone reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging.” The agency also said that it is “not aware of any studies examining the effect of sunscreen use on the development of melanoma.” In addition, the International Agency for Research on Cancer recommends clothing, hats and shade as primary barriers to UV radiation. It says that “sunscreens should not be the first choice for skin cancer prevention and should not be used as the sole agent for protection against the sun” (IARC 2001a).
And this brings us back to the topic at hand – what’s worst? The sun, or sunscreen? I think when reviewing the information, we have to agree that sunscreen poses a much great danger to humans than the sun. In the end, a common-sense approach is best. Remember, for thousands of years, our ancestors lived without sunscreen and got by just fine. Don’t buy into everything you hear about sunscreen, and use a Theoretical Rebel approach to question and make sense of what is best for you.
[info]Here are 2 great articles on sunscreen that I found very helpful
1. Why I Don’t Wear Sunscreen
2. Sunscreens Exposed: Nine Surprising Truths [/info]
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