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Wait . . . WHAT? Sunlight Prevents Cancer???

on April 30 | in Natural Remedies | by | with 88 Comments

[info_box] Note from Mommypotamus: I realize that some people who read this have experienced the pain and difficulty of skin cancer, either personally or with a loved one. I would never dare to invalidate these experiences or to treat them lightly. It is my hope that by providing this research, which is based off the work of a senior MIT scientist and a former cancer and DNA research scientist, I will make a compelling case for re-examining our cultural attitudes about sunlight.   I am not a doctor and I do not advocate sunburns at all, but it is my opinion that responsible sunlight exposure positively affects our health when a good diet with plenty of healthy fats/ antioxidants are present. My writing reflects a commitment to that lifestyle. Comments are welcome no matter your opinion, but please show kindness to one another.[/info_box]

I Confess, I Haven’t Seen . . .

The Today Show in years. But if I remember correctly spring goes something like this:

  1. Parade a bunch of $600 pairs of shoes out as the fresh new look of the season. Inspire women everywhere to wear knockoffs.
  2. Compliment the model, who will no doubt have dewy lips and a gorgeous tan.
  3. Bring out an expert waving a tube of sunblock and warning of the dangers of skin cancer.
  4. Break to commercial for sunless tanning lotion

Why do we want to be tan so badly? I think we are drawn to the healthy glow of sun-kissed skin for the same reason men tend to be drawn to certain body types in women: our instincts recognize indicators of good health even when it’s contrary to what the “experts” say. We agree with them in our minds, dutifully slather on SPF45, then run out and spend our money on dyes to make it tan again!

Let’s stop the madness. In moderate amounts sunlight is beneficial and may even prevent cancer. 

No Really, I’m Serious

“Insufficient exposure to ultraviolet radiation may be an important risk factor for cancer in Western Europe and North America, according to a new study published in the prominent Cancer journal that directly contradicts official advice about sunlight.

The research examined cancer mortality in the United States. Deaths from a range of cancers of the reproductive and digestive systems were approximately twice as high in New England as in the southwest, despite a diet that varies little between regions.

An examination of 506 regions found a close inverse correlation between cancer mortality and levels of ultraviolet B light. The likeliest mechanism for a protective effect of sunlight is vitamin D, which is synthesized by the body in the presence of ultraviolet B.”

Cancer Journal, 94:1867-75 (emphasis mine)

Here’s what you need to know about this study: Sunlight reduced the instance of some of the deadliest cancers, such as breast, colon and prostate. In another study, clinical laboratory scientist Dennis Mangan concluded “This is like the Holy Grail of cancer medicine; vitamin D produced a drop in cancer rates greater than that for quitting smoking, or indeed any other countermeasure in existence.”

But What About Melanoma and Other Skin Cancers?

According to several studies low vitamin D status may actually contribute to the development of melanoma and other cancers.

“[P]atients with malignant melanoma exhibit low levels of vitamin D3 in their blood [this study notes that the those who had the lowest levels developed metastatic disease faster], and . . . others have a problem with the receptor for vitamin D. (Hutchinson et al. 2000; Green et al. 1983) The incidence of melanoma of the skin on sites of the body intermittently exposed to sunlight is reduced among outdoor workers compared with indoor workers. (Elwood et al. 1985)

All of this points to a protective role for vitamin D against cancer in general, and melanoma in particular. But the final nail in the coffin of the “sunlight causes melanoma” hypothesis is this:

A comprehensive review of research studies from 1966 through 2003 failed to show any association between melanoma and sunscreen use! (Dennis et al. 2003)

Say what? Sunscreen doesn’t prevent skin cancer, that’s what.”

Chris Kresser, Medicine for the 21st Century

 

But You Know What It Might Do? Cause Cancer!

It’s ironic, I know, but:

“It is a little-known fact that many of the most popular sunscreen chemicals break down into useless (at best) or carcinogenic and environmentally hazardous (at worst).

Some chemicals to watch out for, since most of them are carcinogenic, break down into things that are, or generally just damage the body in other ways: just about anything with “benzo” in the name, PAB and PABA and their esters, cinoxate, ethylhexyl, p-methoxycinnamate, salicylates such as ethylhexyl salicyclate, homosalate, and octyl salicyclate, digalloyl trioleate (doesn’t that just sound nasty?), menthyl anthranilate, and propylene glycol.

Wait, isn’t glycol antifreeze?

Yes.

Yes, it is.

What’s funny about antifreeze (Pardon me, “humectant”.) found in sunscreen is that all the safety hazard sheets will tell you, regarding propylene glycol, to avoid contact with skin–and that it can cause liver abnormalities.

And that if it is spilled, and an animal takes a lick of it, it will kill them.

Is this really something you want on your skin?”

Sunscreen Causes Cancer, Why Dance Around The Facts? (emphasis mine)

And here’s a fun fact from the London Sunday Times:

“The main chemical used in sun lotions to filter out ultraviolet light may be TOXIC, particularly when exposed to sunshine.”¹

Now, I’m not saying that sunscreen is directly responsible for the development of melanoma or any other particular cancers, but the slew of chemicals it contains have been shown to contribute to cancer. These chemicals don’t sit simply coat our skins, says clinical laboratory scientist Elizabeth Plourde. “Sunscreen is detected in the blood in five minutes and within hours it’s detected in the liver, kidneys, spleen, testicles and the brain. So we absorb it and it’s going into all our organs.”

And what do we have to show for it? In the last 40 years sunscreen use has increased by 30%, but at the same time skin cancer rates nearly quadrupled in parts of our population? “[If] sunscreen is meant to protect us, with its astounding popularity, one would think the skin cancer rates would at least stabilize, if not decrease,” right? ²

Convinced? Let’s Talk Solutions

Obviously sunlight is vital for health, but those skyrocketing skin cancer numbers are scary, too. What’s causing them? Coming up in this series we’ll discuss theories about how oxidation works on a traditional diet vs. a Standard American Diet, why most “healthy” sunscreens contain ingredients that cause DNA deletions in mice, common sense sun safety, and how antioxidants may prevent sunburn.  Stay tuned!

Do you think sunscreen prevents cancer? Why or why not?

Recommended Reading:

“Be wary of plastering yourself with sunscreen: not only may it be ineffective in filtering our UVA and UVB rays, it may be carcinogenic and also cause irreparable damage to aquatic environments.

Medical researcher and clinical laboratory scientist Elizabeth Plourde, PhD, has over 25 years’ experience in medical research including in cancer, genetics and endocrinology. In Sunscreens – Biohazard, inspired by a trip to sun soaked Hawaii and her reaction to bleached corals, she brings her scientific knowledge to bear on just how disruptive the chemicals in sunscreens really are. Read the full review here . . .

Other resources:

AOL News: Study Says Many Sunscreens May Be Accelerating Cancer

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a nutritionist and this site does not provide medical advice. Please see my full disclaimer here.

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88 Responses to Wait . . . WHAT? Sunlight Prevents Cancer???

  1. Julie Sutton Jones via FB says:

    Thanks for posting what sunscreens you like. I’ve been looking for some “good” ones. I’ve never had a burn, but I’m so afraid my little white baby will turn red! lol

  2. Alina says:

    Is California Baby a good natural sunscreen?

    • Heather says:

      Hi Alina – I haven’t checked out their sunscreen, but overall I think they’re a great company so it’s probably pretty good. We use their shampoo. :)

  3. Alina says:

    Oh and how do you self test your vitamin d levels? We take vit d supplements too, but I do not test. Do you think it is important for anyone taking vit d to test if they are supplementing?

    • Heather says:

      It’s really difficult to determine whether you’re getting therapeutic amounts of Vitamin D unless you have your blood levels checked. Check out the link in this article for details on what test you need and how to figure out the best dosage.

  4. Gretchen says:

    This is very enlightening. Thank you for having the courage to step out and say these things in a world where everyone is afraid of the sun!

  5. Heather says:

    Great post! And I agree completely! I love the sun and I rarely use sunscreen!

  6. Jennifer says:

    Hello! I met your mom a couple of months ago and spent the day with her and she told me about your website. I am the realtor she broke up with LOL:)!!! No your mom is so sweet and God sent her my direction for a reason. Not to buy a house from me but for other personal reasons and I thank Him for that and her so please let her know!! Anyway I wanted to know if you have done an article on body powders? My bestfriend has started an all natural body product business (www.whispersofeden.com) and she told me the other day to quit using body powder because it has arsenic in it!!! What do you know about this? This is NOT good especially if people use it on babies which I never did thank God! Well I was just wanting to know if you have done any research on this topic and would share it with me or others! Thank you for all you do!!!

    • Heather says:

      Hi Jennifer! I will let her know! I don’t use body powder but I have switched all my makeup to hand blended powders because even a lot of the “mineral” makeups have junk in them.

  7. Emily Brown says:

    You, Heather, are a brilliant blogger! Each post is comprehensive and down to earth; captivating to read and also backed by research and sources. The BEST I’ve seen, I think!!! Oh, and I’m AMAZED at how often you post…..each one would take me DAYS to put together! Thanks for being so awesome! :) *hugs*

  8. I like the info (and am pained beyond belief that my vit D deficiencies during pregnancy are already evident in cavities), but really had to post to say wow, what a beautiful picture of you and your daughter soaking up rays!! Love it!

  9. Ashley says:

    I loved the post. I did a similar one back when I was somewhat blogging but not half as great (http://justahealthymom.com/2010/07/16/sun-or-sunscreen-which-is-more-hazardous-to-your-health/). I still love to look up products on EWG’s site http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/ and they have the whole section on sunscreens.

  10. Bethany says:

    What are your thoughts on tanning beds? =0) I have used them off and on because I am so pale and it helps me to get a little color slowly without burning. I have such a hard time pulling myself out of the sun once I get in it since I love how it feels and that always leads to a sunburn. :/

  11. I understand your points; hate to see negative impacts (skin cancer, burns) minimized though

    • Jessy says:

      I agree. It’s a bit strange how many bloggers are obsessed about eating perfectly healthy but neglect the danger of sun damage. Yes, you get your vitamin D by sunlight, but you can also get skin cancer. So better getting that vitamin D on the sun when protected by good sunscreen!

  12. @Alison I’m sad to hear I’m not the the only one in this community that learned the hard way about Vit D deficiencies, but better late than never, right? And thanks! We had a lot of fun. :)

  13. Karen Greer Blue ~ It was getting late when I finished, but I do wish I’d added something about the extreme importance of avoiding sunburn. Definitely didn’t meant to minimize that or cancer in any fom.

  14. Jennifer R. says:

    I learned the hard way about sunscreen — my second child has a chemical sensitivity and we learned he was allergic to most sunscreens (the type sold in your average drugstore). Through research I’ve learned a ton — and you’ve summed it all up nicely! We rarely use sunscreen (and when we do — like if we are at the beach for a week — we’ll use an all natural one) and my kids don’t get sunburned. When I read info about the sun on Meghan Telpner’s blog, it was as if light bulb turned on — we have to protect ourselves on the inside too (not just lather up sunscreen on the outside). Good nutrition is so important for our skin and relationship with the sun…. that’s where she suggests a yummy antioxidant rich smoothie. :) Also, check out sunscreens in the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database — GREAT info there — see how your sunscreen rates.

    • Heather says:

      “Good nutrition is so important for our skin and relationship with the sun…. that’s where she suggests a yummy antioxidant rich smoothie.” Yes! Great point, Jennifer.

  15. Debora says:

    Heather, this is a fantastic post! Thank you for sharing this. I know that God gave us sunlight for a good reason…looks like many good reasons. I just happened upon your blog yesterday, and I appreciate how you write and share. My husband and I are doing the GAPS intro for the second time; the first was last spring. It’s hard, but I do think we had some healing! Hope it helps your husband, too. ~Debbie

  16. Tiffany Twa says:

    Vanessa and I were just talking about this today at the zoo after you left- funny! Swiffer wet mops also have antifreeze in them. How nice to know that people are rubbing antifreeze all over their floors and calling them clean. If only cleaning companies had to list the ingredients of their products…

  17. Whittney says:

    Well, after reading this follow-up, my common sense approach (pink glow while trying to avoid burns and the use of a natural sunscreen) is much like your research suggests is beneficial. Hooray, my mama instincts are good! I agree with @karen greer blue about the issue of skin cancer and burning, but I understand late nights. :) It is just SO easy for any of us to burn. I remember burns in my youth/teen years that were so severe they made me sick and I peeled like a snake. Ick.

    Liked this series and I’m happy to report that both myself and my children have spring tan lines already and my Henry learning curve has only resulted in a slight burn on his head. My feisty boy will not be bothered with a hat. Sigh.

  18. Excellent thinking, both this post and the last and in particular, your fundamental and essential recognition that it would be really odd if the sun wasn’t indeed good for us.

    Hope you don’t mind me dropping in a couple of links that are highly relevant. The first is a post I did a couple of years back looking specifically at the relationship between sunscreen use and melanoma and the second, the relationship of vitamin D levels to all cancer.

    Lotsa charts & graphs in both, if you like that sort of thing

    http://freetheanimal.com/2008/12/melanoma-sun-and-its-synthetic-defeat-sunscreen.html

    http://freetheanimal.com/2008/12/vitamin-d-deficiency-and-all-cancer.html

    I’ve just added you to my very short RSS.

  19. Esther says:

    Another excellent post, Heather! I second EWG’s website. They also have a free phone app called “EWG Sunscreen Guide” that’s handy for shopping. I’ve heard good things about Badger brand sunscreen and hope to order some soon. I have a relative who is a nutritionist/chiropractor–he recently told me that sun’s vitamin D3 levels are the highest between 11-1 pm. My boys and I make it a daily ritual to play out in the sun for at least 20 min a day during the peak hours. It feels soo good!

  20. great posts heather! when i was 14 and 15 all i cared about all summer was getting as tan as i could. crisco, baby oil, aluminum foil, laying out by the pool all day every day… falling asleep on a silver floatie and having the worst tummy burn ever… anyway, fast forward to a few years ago when i started having to get atypical moles removed and my dad got skin cancer (not melanoma thankfully). pair that with my grandma on the other side having had melanoma and i pretty much vowed never to go swimming or lay out without sunscreen again. i didn’t care anymore about being tan, but decided to prefer being pasty white over getting skin cancer.

    but how refreshing it is to hear that it’s actually okay to enjoy this God-given ball of fire in the sky! totally makes sense that it would be good for us. now i don’t have to obsess so much about protecting myself from the sun, but rather expose myself (and my kids) to it on purpose! of course i was concerned about what to do all day at the beach, which we’ll be headed to do this summer for a week, w00t! so thank you for the natural sunscreen suggestions. we’ll be throwing out whatever we have from last year and getting some of the better stuff! i never knew that traditional sunscreen ingredients were carcinogenic. yikes! thanks for educating me once again =)

    • Heather says:

      Joanna – We’re friends so I’ll just say it: be careful. That early sun exposure under far-from-ideal circumstances (aka before any of us became crunchy) and the atypical moles should be a consideration going forward. Load up on lots of omega 3 fats and other antioxidants! And we def use sunscreen at the beach. :)

  21. Good post! I hate using sunscreen but feel I have too. I will try your method this summer for the kids so we don’t have to use so much.

  22. Heather,
    Sad that I’m a little late to the party – excellent resources here! For those who can’t avoid *too much* sun during midday, like for a day at the beach or a spring break trip somewhere warm when your base isn’t built up, I agree it is important to be wise about skin protection and mineral-based sunblock. Did you know I tested 28 of them (almost the entire EWG rated 1-3 list) last summer? Love to share this with your readers: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2010/07/20/natural-sunscreen-review-do-mineral-based-sunblocks-work-2/

    Thanks for spreading the word! :) Katie

  23. [...] (they won’t send you spam email or anything, it’s just a bookmarking tool). Then go to this blog post OR this one and give it a thumbs up. Thanks so much! (Please leave a separate comment for all five [...]

  24. Jenni Daniels says:

    very interesting blog series. Keep it coming :)

  25. Vanessa Stegner says:

    I liked “Boba Carrier” on FB

  26. Vanessa Stegner says:

    oops wrong one!!

  27. Heather says:

    I understand wha you are “attempting” to do, here is my issue with it. Most people dont understand that just a little bit of sun without sunscreen is all that your body needs. You are still going to get Vit D with the sunscreen on. As for the all natural sunscreens, that I totally get. Why would anyone want to put carcinogenes on our children? But I guess the way I look at it is any sunscreen is better than skin cancer. Melanoma is the number 1 cancer for women in their 20s and number 2 for women n their 30s. It is DEADLY!! It can and does kill!! You are teaching people about the importance of vit d, but you arent teaching them about how deadly skin cancer, caused by the sun and tanning beds, really are! Maybe that is something that you should start researching. Clearly you spend lots of time doing that.

    • Heather says:

      Heather, it is my understanding that sunscreen does indeed block the absorption of Vitamin D (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4001172/).

      • Heather says:

        Please read this link: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/17/health/17real.html

        I also talked to my dermatologist today and he confirmd that you can indeed get vit d while wearing sunscreen. There are so many more benefits to wearing sunscreen, compared to not wearing sunscreen.

        Here is another link about how dangerous tanning beds are: http://yourlife.usatoday.com/health/medical/cancer/story/2011/05/Young-melanoma-survivors-speak-out-against-indoor-tanning/47267276/1

        I could honestly send you links and info all day that totally refute what you are telling people, but I wont. I dont have the time and neither do you. I would like you to do some more research tho, but you tell people not to use sunscreen. Even if that wasnt necessarily your intention, thats what you did. Did you see all the comments you had which young moms and ladies saying they just knew it wasnt a good idea not to wear sunscreen. Eek!

        The one thing you seemed to be really worried about was Vit D poisioning. Did you research to see how likely it is that your children or you will actually get that? Vit D poisoning is really really rare!

        • Heather says:

          Heather, you’re right. We could go back and forth for a very long time and I don’t think we would change each other’s minds. There is quite a bit of research to support what I’ve communicated here (much of it can be found at this physician run website: http://www.vitamindcouncil.org), but in the end being right is not what matters most to me. You have been on my heart a lot this week, mama, and I am praying for you and your little family.

        • Jessy says:

          I completely agree with your comment, Heather. I can’t believe these comments here, how mothers are now super happy/proud that their children have tan lines and so on.

  28. Heather says:

    Here is a link I thought you might like! Sunscreen that actually contain Vit D! http://www.stylelist.com/2010/02/26/vitamin-d-sunscreen/

    I have not ever tried this sunscreen so I dont know really anything about it, but I am considering getting a bottle to try it out.

    • karen says:

      I’m happy that there are people discussing this topic in this light. Most of the conversations regarding sunlight are misguided by anti-sun lobbyists claiming that UV is bad, when truly that is the opposite from the truth.
      HOWEVER, I do want to point out that one can benefit from the same delightful uv rays we absorb from the sun in a tanning bed. No amount of edible vitamin D (milk, fish oil, etc.) or topical cream containing vitamin D will EVER get your body close to vitamin D-satisfied. So, with tanning beds, it’s pretty simple and relaxing. (Plus it cures the blues, winter depression due to lack of sun, and a tanned glow helps to accentuate skin tone which brings out muscles for a lean look.) Depending on your skin and how much you’ve been exposed recently, you will go in a certain level tanning bed for a certain amount of time. When you do that, you are MUCH less likely to burn in a tanning bed than you are in the sun. Since the sun’s uv output is random at best, kind of like a one-size-fits-all pair of jeans, during the summer it is common to see red-cheeked, pink shouldered folks walking around from being crisped from the solar waves, while others are lightly sun-kissed and/or golden (lucky girls). Just like you need different sizes of jeans, you need a certain amount of time in the tanning bed to get a good enough amount of uv, without getting too much to make you red. That’s one of the many benefits of a tanning bed versus the sun. But of course it is much more fun at the beach than in a tanning room. (Unless you’re using one of the deluxe tanning beds with high UVA concentration which has a massage cushion and Ipod surround sound. Then I’d probably want to hit the tanning bed instead, until my abs are a little more cut and suitable for the beach.)
      Karen

      • karen says:

        Btw, When I say that your body won’t ever get close to being vitamin D-satisfied by only applying creams or eating dairy/drinking milk or taking D pills; It means that our body is missing an essential part of the whole vitamin D process. There is no synthesizing. The beauty of UV light is that it is the core or what vitamin D production is all about. Our body takes that UV light and converts it through many magical processes. Along with the regulation of hormones (such as serotonin which is the happiness hormone!), vitamin D is synthesized AFTER the sunlight is absorbed from the tanning lights, or from laying outside. THAT is what the prevention of cancers is all about. I’ve been eating dairy all my life, and when I realized that I’m lactose intolerant; I switched to other stuff like fish oil. BUT I wasn’t until after I started using tanning beds that I realized that I just eventually stopped getting sick like a normal non-tanner would. No yearly colds, no fevers, no headaches… ::knock on wood:: I still went outside in the winter with wet hair… I was around sneezy flu-ridden classmates and co-workers just the same… and had been around boyfriends (non-tanners), and I’d be breathing their sickly germ air around them, but I was hardy and healthy. It’s been years since I started tanning and I’ve decreased the amount of time I’ve felt run-down- where I can count my sick days on my hand. I’ll say, being healthy without doing much… it’s awesome. (Yeah I exercise, eat/cook with coconut oil, use mineral oil-free/petroleum-free/petrolatum-free creams, wash my hands before eating, and eat red meat, fruits and vegetables… but besides being a normal young woman, I don’t do a lot to try to keep myself from being sick!) So knowing that tanning beds have kept me physically healthy (and sane), it gives me a lot of reassurance that life ain’t so bad even if I live in the Northeast (and Chicago) where Mr. Sun only comes out to play sunshine five steady months out of the whole year. Plus having the option of not having tan-lines (some Euro girls like that though) and using tan-too stickers is really nice, and fun!
        Karen
        Long comment, and late reply to this post, I’m sorry!! But thanks. ;)

        • Heather says:

          Hi Karen! I recently ran across this article on “safe” vs. “unsafe” tanning beds from Dr. Mercola. Thought it might interest you: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2006/11/11/can-a-tanning-bed-be-healthy.aspx

          P.S. I have removed parts of this thread between Heather and Karen. Some excellent points were made, but I feel there are parts that violate my comment policy of kindness and simply editing them to remove those statements makes subsequent comments more confusing. Much love, Heather.

          • Donna M. says:

            There is NO SUCH THING as “safe” tanning. ANY color you add to your skin via the sun or a tanning bed damages it permanently. Anyone who listens to “Dr.” (he is not an M.D.) Mercola is a fool. Can you not see that he is, via these articles, simply trying to sell his tanning beds?

  29. [...] Mommypotamus convinced me to switch to natural sunscreen.  I haven’t actually bought it yet, but [...]

  30. Nathalie says:

    Hi!

    I said goodbye to sunscreen 3 years ago… I got my skin (and my children’s skin) used to the sun. We can stay longer in the morning and after 4pm but we are careful between those. And if I need a protection, I use sesame seed oil or jojoba oil, which are about the same as an IPF 5. When we get a tan, we can get in the sun for a longer time without burning.

    And before that, I was either white or red… now I get a tan and don’t burn anymore :)

  31. [...] You can also read a little further to learn why sunlight actually prevents cancer by clicking here. And to further enlighten you, here is one more article which outlines the pros and cons of [...]

  32. Evita says:

    Excellent breakdown and analysis Heather. The more awareness that is brought out about this topic, the more people can benefit. I personally said good bye to chemical-laced sunscreens a few years ago and now enjoy healthy and sensible time in the sun that nourishes my health for the best :)

    Am definitely sharing this article around to help others :)

    p.s. I am glad some of my research helped as well – thank you for using it to spread more awareness.

  33. [...] (Pssst! The post on how sunlight PREVENTS cancer I promised earlier is up. Check it out here!) [...]

  34. Sandy (NZ) says:

    So pleased to read this and get some more info to think about, I’m very fair skinned, live in a country with stronger sunlight (the advantage of cleaner skies) and have been taught to cover up all my life, with occasional bad burns when I forgot or misread the cloud cover. Plus my uncle died from melanoma. So I learned to stay out of the sun coz it was easier. A few years ago I was diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder (low seratonin in winter) and told to get more sun, which went against my ingrained habits. Lately I have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and told I need to get more natural Vit D (bikini bare sun exposure was the actual description my doctor gave me) and to avoid all unnecessary chemicals of any kind (it’s an autoimmune disease). And I discovered this past summer that I now hate the idea of smothering my skin in chemicals of any kind, good, neutral or bad. So I’ve been wondering how to resolve this feeling of being caught between a rock and a hard place! I still don’t feel I have the answers but It’s nice to have some alternative research to ponder upon, thank you!

  35. Jill says:

    I made it through childhood without ever wearing sunscreen (or a hat, sunglasses, or long pants/sleeves). We were playing outside all the time spring through fall, developed a tan gradually, and despite our pretty fair skin, rarely ever got a sunburn. My aunt had a pool and as teens my sister and I taught swimming lessons there. When outside all day like that, we realized we could burn with such lengthy exposure. So we did what was considered common sense at the time, and wore t-shirts and hats while teaching (we were usually standing in the water up to our waist and it never seemed to be a problem for our legs). We also put white zinc oxide on our noses and sometimes under our eyes (like a football player does with the black stuff).

    As an adult, I’m in an office all day so I don’t have the chance to develop the gradual protective tan. I can’t just take the occasional beach or pool day without burning. While I’m in the water I don’t use anything–I stay in a long time when I’m at the beach–and then when I get out I use a hat, cover up, and umbrella to keep from getting burned. If I’m doing a week at the beach I take a “physical” sunscreen like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, rather than a “chemical” sunscreen like the ones with oxybenzone, sulisobenzone, dioxybenzone, etc. And I get some full exposure on my skin for a while before using the physical sunblock.

    It feels so good to have full sun on your skin. It only makes sense that it’s good for us.

  36. Jill says:

    My understanding also is that the more deadly melanoma is inversely correlated with sun exposure (as in more sun exposure=less melanoma), in fact more often occurring on the body where the sun doesn’t typically reach, such as between the toes, under the hair, etc. The more treatable epithelial skin cancers are the ones more correlated with sun exposure. It is possible the rise in those is due to the poor vitamin D status and other poor dietary factors of modern people.

  37. [...] some common ground. While it’s true that sunlight improves mood and helps us sleep better, prevents cancer, and cannot be replaced by supplements something else is also true: reckless sun exposure is [...]

  38. [...] some common ground. While it’s true that sunlight improves mood and helps us sleep better, prevents cancer, and cannot be replaced by supplements something else is also true: reckless sun exposure is [...]

  39. Donna M. says:

    In my humble opinion (I am currently battling melanoma), you are incredibly irresponsible in posting some of the information that appears on your blog. First, you cite Cancer Journal, 94:1 867-75. That study was published TEN YEARS AGO. As these things go, that is REALLY old.

    Next, you refer to colon and prostate cancer as some of the “deadliest cancers.” Not true. Both are extremely curable when caught early. Melanoma? Well, there is no cure for it. It is highly aggressive and sneaky. When you treat it with one thing it finds a way around it. Low Vitamin D levels aren’t good for anyone, but TOO MUCH sunlight is not the way to get it. You can get it in food (the preferable means) or you can get it in pill form. Oh, and you cite more old studies; one from 2000 and one from 1983. Really? And then there’s the study from 1985. (eye roll)

    “Glycol” is not antifreeze. “Ethylene glycol” is. There are lots of “glycols” and they don’t all have the same scientific properties.

    I don’t pretend to know all there is to know about sunscreen, and frankly unless you have a degree in chemistry, you shouldn’t either. What is your source for the table you include titled “Incidence of malignant melanoma and other skin cancer?” You need to back up that information.

    The skyrocketing number of skin cancer cases is, in my opinion, the cause of many things. The atmosphere has been depleted of ozone, so the sun is stronger. We are far more physically active (hence outdoors) than folks were 40 years ago; and last (and most important) is the HUGE numbers of people who use indoor tanning beds.

    Here’s what I’d like to see you do…come up with the same information in current studies, i.e. less than 5 years old, and get back to us. That would be the responsible thing to do. Otherwise you are misleading all of these people who are reading your blog, and some of them may end up with melanoma themselves…because of what you told them.

    • Karen says:

      Donna,
      With all due respect, have you yourself even looked for current research? The sensationalist views that you have are all derived from EVEN OLDER information- info outdated to the beginning of the creation of the deadly SPF craze. We are absolutely NOT more active than we were before. We are dying from our inactivity- just look at the obesity from food choices, the skin cancer from being cooped up inside constantly, and the failing hearts from how excessively we use unsaturated oils.

      There has been decades of research supporting the importance of sunlight, warning against the dangers of SPF, and TONS of new research within the past year! If you had known that, then you wouldn’t be spouting off claiming that Heather doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

      Since the invention of SPF, skin cancer has skyrocketed! It’s insane how the anti-sun campaign has made people so dense! If we stop allowing lobbyists to stuff billions of dollars worth of revenue from the anti-sun scare into their deep pockets, and stop listening to Aveeno and Jergens advertisements, they can stop stealing our money for SPF products and people will stop getting skin cancer, breast cancer, osteoporosis, different diseases attributed to hormone imbalance, and the list goes on!

      Talk about taking responsibility, Madame Pot!

    • Heather says:

      Hi Donna, propyleyne glycol is indeed antifreeze (http://www.amsoil.com/storefront/ant.aspx). Regarding the graph, the source is the Centre for Epidemiology, National Board of Health and Welfare. And in this post (http://www.mommypotamus.com/antioxidants-vs-sunscreen-which-works-better/) and this one (http://www.mommypotamus.com/many-healthy-sunscreens-accelerate-skin-aging/) I do present research conducted very recently. The information is interpreted by Dr. Plourde, who has twenty years in DNA and cancer research. I say not all this to argue, but to simply respond to your inquiry. Wishing you all the very best. ~ Heather

      • Donna M. says:

        Heather, here is what I said: “Glycol” is not antifreeze. “Ethylene glycol” is. There are lots of “glycols” and they don’t all have the same scientific properties.” Your own link supports what I said.

        As to the rest of your reply, please provide links directly to the journals or sources you’re getting them from. If you stand behind this information, you should have no problem providing the source, and we shouldn’t have to go hunting for it.

  40. Julie says:

    Everyone can cite journals and studies back and forth until your blue in the face. But I’ll cite this: I am 30 years old and will never have to worry whether I put sunscreen on my children because due to Melanoma I will never be able to have my own child. Because of my early exposure to tanning in the sun and in tanning beds I will cry myself to sleep most nights wondering when my skin cancer will spread to my lungs or brain, I will think of my poor mother and how she will feel to see her own child die, I will think of my fiancé and how I will break his heart and soul, I can go on and on. I will try to raise awareness about these dangers because I would never want to see another human have the struggles and deep deep despair myself and my family goes through everyday! I just simply ask please please be more considerate of those fighting each and everyday just to live another moment because of what sunburns and tanning has done to destroy their precious lives… Think how you would feel to know that one day sooner than later you will die a long and painfully terrible death. Thank you

    • Heather says:

      Julie, there are no words. Though we don’t fully agree on the causes of this disease I don’t want to debate that with you. Sending love your way.

  41. [...] have all kinds of benefits: increased intelligence, mental clarity and even a decreased risk of skin cancer. Thing is, more is not necessarily better. Industrially produced fish oils boast impressively high [...]

  42. [...] You can also read a little further to learn why sunlight actually prevents cancer by clicking here. And to further enlighten you, here is one more article which outlines the pros and cons of [...]

  43. [...] You can also read a little further to learn why sunlight actually prevents cancer by clicking here. And to further enlighten you, here is one more article which outlines the pros and cons of [...]

  44. Great post! I’m wondering about that graph of the Incidence of Malignant Melanoma and other Skin Cancers. I wish we could see a graph as % of population instead of # of instances. Since population has increased since 1970, it’s not the best way to represent whether there’s a greater chance of developing skin cancer then than as now.

    I did read a while ago about a study that showed that outdoor workers were less likely to develop skin cancer than indoor workers, though. AND that people usually develop skin cancer in places that are less often exposed to the sun. The tan we build up helps protect us from the sun :D Also, I hate how greasy I feel when I have sunblock on! :)

  45. [...] to the skin. They do this not by blocking UV rays which help our bodies make Vitamin D sulfate and reduce our risk of breast, colon, prostate and many other cancers.  For an deeper look at why virgin coconut oil is considered a sunscreen by many check out this [...]

  46. [...] positive effects of the sun, please check this gal out. my views on sun exposure align perfectly with hers, and i can’t express how pleased i am that she backs everything she says up with published [...]

  47. Erica says:

    I am a natural skeptic about things of this nature. My father has had skin cancer. He tells me about having a sunburn all summer long and never thinking anything about it as a child. I am fair skinned and burn very easily. I used to slather on sunscreen. Now I tend to do more covering up then using sunscreen, unless I am at the beach or pool. I wear a large hat and a cool loose fitting long-sleeved button down shirt. I have a baby now and I am concerned about his sun exposure as well as vitamin D deficiency. As of now I keep him in the shade, but I will be making my own sunscreen. To all of the naysayers I have been doing some research about the links between and antioxidant rich diet and skin cancer. Here are a couple of peer reviewed articles.

    http://www.nature.com/jid/journal/v65/n4/pdf/5617180a.pdf
    http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/15586237/reload=0;jsessionid=E7oFHzGAtznIucx3P4UF.8

    Heather, thank you for constantly forcing me to ask new questions! I enjoy your blog

  48. [...] “Insufficient exposure to ultraviolet radiation may be an important risk factor for cancer in Western Europe and North America, according to a new study published in the prominent Cancer journal that directly contradicts official advice about sunlight.The research examined cancer mortality in the United States. Deaths from a range of cancers of the reproductive and digestive systems were approximately twice as high in New England as in the southwest, despite a diet that varies little between regions.An examination of 506 regions found a close inverse correlation between cancer mortality and levels of ultraviolet B light. The likeliest mechanism for a protective effect of sunlight is vitamin D, which is synthesized by the body in the presence of ultraviolet B.Cancer Journal, 94:1867-75 (emphasis mine)” Read her whole article here. [...]

  49. Erin says:

    I am not intending to argue that there are no scary sounding or possibly harmful chemicals in sunscreen, however some of the statements that you make regarding propylene glycol are incorrect or misleading at best. I am sure you are not intending this, so I wanted to comment so that the corrections can be made. Yes, propylene glycol is used in antifreeze, however the toxic antifreeze that will kill your cat or dog is ethylene glycol, not propylene glycol. Propylene glycol is not considered toxic and is approved for use in food applications. You may even have some in your cabinet in the form of imitation food flavorings-vanilla, rum, etc, or in store bought salad dressing. Anything you look up in MSDS will sound harmful. Even NaCl(common table salt) will kill you if you eat too much. And the lethal dose of table salt(oral LD50 for rat is 3,000mg/kg) is actually lower than the lethal dose of propylene glycol(oral LD50 for rat is 22,000mg/kg). Also, an antifreeze is a substance that lowers the freezing point of a substance. Humectant is a substance that reduces the loss of moisture. A chemical can have both properties, as propylene glycol does, but humectant is not a “nice” word to cover up the fact that it is an antifreeze. In fact, ethylene glycol (the toxic antifreeze) is also used as a dessicant which is the opposite of a humectant.

  50. Sonia says:

    As someone who has been through chemo and radiation, I have a higher than average risk of developing skin cancer. Because of this, I am very careful about getting lots of good sunlight exposure (avoiding much time between noon and 2 and being very cautious about sunburning). When I or my husband or daughter are going to be spending extended time in the sun, we use Lavanila Baby Block which is chemical free and chock full of excellent botanicals. The couple of times that we have run out, we have used coconut oil with great success (it is the second ingredient in the Lavanila sunblock, so I guess that makes sense!) :)
    Thank you for this article! It’s good to see a little more common sense about sun exposure!

  51. […] D. Low Vitamin D may contribute to cancers and melanoma. More information on Vitamin D here. Mommypotamus does excellent research. It was her blog, that got me re-evaluating my sunscreen […]

  52. ellen says:

    See the TED talk on utube by Richard Weller. He is a dermatologist who has discovered that the lower your sun exposure, the more likely you will develop heart disease. It’s very interesting! Those slathered with sunscreen are doing a disservice to their hearts, not to mention that those who are always covered in sunscreen are more likely to develop melanoma than those who get regular sun exposure. Sun exposure is pt the same thing as getting a burn.

  53. […] here. You can also read a little further to learn why sunlight actually prevents cancer by clicking here. And to further enlighten you, here is one more article which outlines the pros and cons of […]

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