There’s a lot of people who really care about their kids and worry themselves about skin cancer. Many of us sunburn easily and remember times of pain and sleepless nights after a long day in the sun. And then there are the sun-worshippers who look fantastic and bronze in their teens and twenties, then slowly turn into the dried apple faces we carved as kids and left on the windowsill.
I was so excited to spend a week at the beach in Florida on my honeymoon. My Latino in-laws expressed concern for my lily white body – that I would literally fry in the sun. I was scared too, so I liberally applied sunscreen. A week later, after many hours in the sun, I was as white as the day I was born and so disappointed in my lack of a tan.
I reached a conclusion that is basic and undisputed – sunscreens can prevent sunburn and tans very successfully, but that is truly all they are guaranteed to do. Since doing some extensive reading on the subject, there are things I’ve learned that are making me rethink the use of sunscreen.
The first is that scientists have not proven that there is actually a causal link between sunburn and malignant melanoma, the most deadly skin cancer. Sunburns could actually be only markers to indicate that the person is genetically predisposed to skin cancers, regardless of how much time they spend in the sun. In Australia, sunscreen has been highly promoted during the past ten years to the fair-skinned populace, yet in that same time their skin cancer rates have climbed until they are now the highest in the world. The problem may lie in the fact that most of the active ingredients in sun lotions contain free radical generating properties which can really cause cancer. This fact (free radicals) is undisputed by the scientific community, but the ingredients have been the best we have at blocking UVA and UVB rays, which are the ones that cause sunburn and aging.
I think the most disturbing thing I’ve read has to do with the strong estrogenic actions of oxybenzone. We live at a time of unprecedented chemical exposure. Of interest is the fact that in the past 30 years, the cancers that have increased the most are the ones of organs most sensitive to sex hormones, like breast, ovarian, testes, and prostate. The increase parallels the use of chemicals in many products which are known hormone disruptors that mimic estrogen. One person I read even suggested that gender-bending and identity issues could possibly be related to this problem.
It’s a lot to think about and consider. We all want to be healthy and happy. In my personal experience, I prefer as few chemicals as possible, so I am going to err on the side of the naked sun and only use my vitamin – C all-natural sunscreen. Hopefully I can boost my antioxidant levels by eating right to protect my skin from cancer and from looking like one of those dried apples.