May is Skin Cancer Prevention Month, so I thought we should talk skin cancer prevention. Skin cancer runs in my family, so it is something I take very seriously.
Contrary to what conventional wisdom might state, the jury is still out on whether or not sun exposure causes skin cancer.
In fact, moderate sun exposure might just protect us from skin cancer.
Yes, you read that right.
While you’re picking yourself up the floor, let me explain.
Sunlight actually helps to strengthen our immune systems and fight disease. Sunlight also affects our moods and helps prevent depression. Hello, have you talked to me long about February or March? I’m certifiable. We NEED sunlight.
Not that depression has anything to do with skin cancer — well, I suppose I’d be pretty depressed if I had skin cancer — but my point is, the sun is good for us!!
It’s all about the Vitamin D.
When we slather ourselves from head to toe with sunscreen every time we walk out the door, we prevent our bodies from absorbing this essential nutrient.
Vitamin D deficiency is becoming epidemic in our society, and this is probably due to the way we over-use sunscreen.
In addition to that, it seems as if melanin (the pigment that gives your skin that beautiful golden tan) actually protects against the “mutagenic molecules causing cancer”.
According to R. Barnhill’s publication (in Journal of National Cancer Institute 2005, 97, 195-199), people with melanoma survive longer if they have more sun exposure.
So enjoy the sun!
It’s good for you!
Here are a few more reasons to back off the sunscreen.
There is evidence that some common sunscreen ingredients are carcinogenic as well as hormone disrupters. Get this, they may interfere with normal sexual development and cause reproductive problems. This could be another factor in the epidemic of girls hitting puberty at younger ages. And of course, the chemicals in sunscreens can also cause rashes and skin irritation in some people.
You’re better off using a mineral-based barrier sunblock rather than a chemical-based sunscreen that soaks into your skin. The mineral-based sunblocks tend to be less irritating to the skin, and they don’t contain the harmful chemicals that we discussed above.
While you’re out enjoying the sun, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Skin Cancer Prevention Tips
1. Wear a hat.
If you’re going to be outside during the heat of the day, rather than applying chemicals to your delicate skin, wear a hat. Just be careful of your ears and neck, if the hat doesn’t sufficiently shade those areas, you’ll need to bring a good natural sunblock along.
2. Sit in the shade.
I know it sounds obvious, but when the sun is really beating down, find some shade. You can still get a tan in the shade, but you won’t be getting the brunt of the sun’s harshest rays.
3. Opt for the mineral-based sunblocks, not chemical-based sunscreens.
If you must wear sunscreen (and let’s face it, sometimes it’s inevitable) you’re much better off using a natural sunblock.
4. Get regular body checks.
For most of us, the damage has been done already, so it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on your skin for unusual moles or changes in your skin’s appearance. I get regular body checks because of my family history, and I often have spots taken off and biopsied just to be on the safe side. As always, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Nothing is more true in the case of cancer.
5. Try self tanner.
Do you love a suntan but hate the sun? There are tons of great self-tanners out there. You do have to watch out for toxic ingredients such as parabens and oxybenzone, but the main ingredient in self tanners (DHA or “dihydroxyacetone”) is supposed to be safe.
Stay tuned for tips on using self tanner for a beautiful, streak-free glow!!