Are you confused about which sunscreen is the best for you and your family? Have questions about the dangers of too much sun exposure? When it comes to trying to protect yourself from the sun, it’s easy to go crazy.
Many products carry confusing claims or contain ingredients that could pose health risks. The FDA has just recently updated the rules for sunscreen labeling, however its standards are still weak compared to Europe and other parts of the world. In the mistaken belief that sunscreen alone will protect them from skin cancer risks, many people fail to seek shade and cover up in protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses.
Though some studies seem to suggest that sunscreen may help prevent certain cancers, there is mounting evidence that sunscreen might increase the risk of the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma, for some people. Researchers speculate that this may be because sunscreen users tend to stay out in the sun longer than those that don’t use sunscreen. Alternatively, it may be the chemicals in the sunscreens themselves.
I’ve fleshed out some bullet points from the Environmental Working Group, a consumer watchdog group that distills extensive research:
- Do not use sunscreen as a tool to prolong your time in the sun.
- Cover up. These type of hats, shirts and sunglasses are the best protection. (Ed. I’m also a fan of local mom Lisa Moore’s Cover Clothing. — Joslyn)
- Avoid sunburn.
- Do not use a tanning bed or sunbathe.
- Protect kids. Early life sunburns are worse, so keep little ones out of the hot sun.
- Pick a non-toxic sunscreen with strong UVA protection – Moms, please find a makeup with sunscreen to wear daily, I like this and this.
- Get vitamin D. There is speculation but not proof that adequate levels of vitamin D can reduce the risk of melanoma. But we know that vitamin D is good for combatting other types of cancer. Commit to getting screened for vitamin D deficiency. If you are, you may need a blood test and regular or seasonal vitamin D supplementation.
- Examine your skin. Check your skin regularly for new moles that are tender or growing. Ask your primary care doctor how often you should see a dermatologist.
- Don’t let SPFs of greater than 50 fool you, they provide only marginally more protection.
- Avoid products containing vitamin A, retinal palmitate, and retinol.
All the unknowns involving sunscreens may lead you throw your hands up in the air and avoid them altogether. Just remember to use shade, protective clothing, and avoid the midday sun as your first line of defense.
Dr. Kate Naumes, ND runs a Holistic Wellness practice just off the Katy trail. She believes that healthy, happy, and fulfilled women are essential to a healthy, productive world. Learn more at naumesnd.com.