Finally the sun has arrived or is on its way for many of you lovely people (I get it all year round living in the desert)!! It’s our favourite time of year and a chance to bare our bodies to the wonderful creation that keeps us all alive….so how have we become so scared of it?
Media propaganda has made us very fearful of the sun. Sunscreen, in all its forms, is a multi-million dollar business which needs intelligent marketing. Fear of ANYTHING is one of the most successful ways to sell a product. Create a fear of something and then sell a product to eliminate/alleviate the fear and BAM, you make a lot of money!! So is there a necessary fear of sunshine? The answer is ‘yes’, to a certain extent. The sun can cause melanoma of the skin, particularly when the skin is sunburnt. Ultraviolet radiation reaches the earth as UVA and UVB light, and has been classified as a human carcinogen by the National Toxicology Program (NTP). UVA was generally considered to be less carcinogenic than UVB.
Because it was believed UVB light was more dangerous, sunscreen products were first developed to filter UVB and not UVA. However, recent research has demonstrated UVA radiation actually plays an important role in the development of malignant melanoma, the most aggressive form of skin cancer. According to Dr Mercola referencing from Seer Cancer Gov: ‘Despite the availability of sunscreen products and media coverage about using sun protection, the number of people suffering from malignant melanoma of the skin continues to rise each year. The number of new cases of skin cancer per 100,000 people has risen from 7.9 in 1975 to 24 people in 2013. This is a massive increase in levels of skin cancer and in more serious malignant melanomas. Let’s look a little deeper into UVA and UVB….
UVA penetrates the skin through glass and UVB does not. A significant amount of indoor workers were found to be getting the more serious malignant melanoma suggesting that UVA is actually more of a problem than UVB. The other interesting point to make is that UVB produces Vitamin D which has been proven to protect against melanoma.
Although both UVA and UVB cause tanning and burning, UVB does so at a more accelerated rate which is why it initially got its bad reputation……HOWEVER….the UVA rays penetrate much deeper and are the rays that cause more dangerous melanoma, so are significantly more serious.
We now know that UVA is more dangerous than UVB and can affect us indoors, so let’s discuss the positive benefits of UVB. UVB creates Vitamin D. Regular SAFE exposure to the sun allows us to create Vitamin D which is one of THE most important Vitamins for health. (If you want to know more about the benefit of Vitamin D please read one of my previous blogs). Regular sun exposure to UVB rays at the optimal time of the day, between 12 and 3, helps us to maintain healthy Vitamin D levels. The amazing thing is that Vitamin D, when formed on the skin due to regular exposure to UVB rays, actually prevents cancer. Yes you heard me right!! Exposure to the sun can prevent cancer!! It in fact modulates genes on your skin which help prevent abnormal cells from the UV rays!! How amazing is our body?
The key is safe sun exposure. To allow a large part of our skin to absorb UVB rays but to refrain from getting burned. Each person will have a different rate at which their ability to produce Vitamin D from the sun is produced. We, as individuals have to learn about our own skin and the skin of our children. Starting from 2/3 mins in the midday sun and building up our tan level is the best way. Half the time it would take the skin to become red is the perfect example.
Many of you are probably thinking ‘what if I need to be in the sun for a long time’? Good question. You could cover up? You could find shade? The media would have you believe you can stay in the sun and can acquire a slow developed tan by blocking the UV rays and putting on sunscreen. DOH!! (I am having a Bart Simpson moment here)…how does that help us get Vitamin D? Blocking the rays will block Vitamin D. Not only that, but sunscreens are CARCINOGENIC!! Again, you heard me right….
Researchers at the Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based nonprofit, released their annual report claiming nearly half of the 500 most popular sunscreen products may actually increase the speed at which malignant cells develop and spread skin cancer because they contain vitamin A and its derivatives, retinol and retinyl palmitate.
The Wild Doc reports on his blog ‘Commercial sunscreen ingredients (like oxybenzone and methoxycinnamate) disrupt hormones and are carcinogenic (CANCER CAUSING). The use of the hormone-disrupting chemical oxybenzone, penetrates the skin and enters the bloodstream where it can cause more than just skin damage. An FDA study found that even vitamin A has “photocarcinogenic” properties, meaning that it results in cancerous tumors when used on skin exposed to sunlight. “Tumors and lesions developed up to 21% faster in lab animals coated in a vitamin A-laced cream,” the report said.
There is a plethora of studies to be found reporting the harm caused by sunscreens however referring to my discussion at the beginning of this article, it is BIG business. Unfortunately many people have no idea. We have been brought up to believe the sun is dangerous and should be avoided and blocked at all costs. My personal understanding after many hours of research is the opposite. Willow and I enjoy the sun, every day. I took her in the sun every day for 30 secs when she was a baby and slowly built her a base tan which protects her daily. She has regular Vitamin D exposure. There ARE times when she has to remain in the sun so I use a natural sunscreen which provides protection without chemicals. You can find a list of safe sunscreens here, although the list is mainly for American brands. I use Badger and Dr Mercola’s own brand too. I am also including a recipe to make your own below!! I will definitely be trying this asap!!
Homemade Coconut Oil Sunscreen Recipe
1/4 cup coconut oil (SPF 4)
1/4 cup shea butter (SPF 4-5)
1/8 cup almond oil
2 tbsp. beeswax granules
1-2 tbsp. zinc oxide powder (SPF 20) (optional)
Essential oils of your choice (lavender, rosemary, vanilla, and/or peppermint are nice)
- Using a double boiler (or a small pan over very low heat), melt your coconut oil, sesame or jojoba oil, beeswax, and shea butter together. The beeswax will be the last to melt.
- When the beeswax is melted, remove the mixture from the heat and let cool to room temperature. If you’re using zinc oxide, whisk it in at this point, being careful not to create a lot of dust. If there are some lumps, that’s OK. They will break up when you whip the body butter in step 4.
- Move the mixture to the fridge for 15-30 minutes. You want it to start to set up, but still be soft enough to whip.
- Take the mixture out of the fridge and using a stand mixer or hand mixer, start to whip it. Drizzle in the red raspberry seed oil, the carrot seed oil, and any essential oils of your choice, and continue whipping until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Use as you would any regular sunscreen. Application rates will depend on your activity and exposure to water. Store in a glass container in the fridge between uses.
The take-home is:
- Enjoy the sun, at a safe exposure rate, in the middle of the day to receive optimal Vitamin D protection.
- Try and find shade or cover up yourself and children if you need to be in the sun.
- If exposure is necessary use a safe sunscreen or make your own!!
- Spread the word as your personal research is key to preventing cancer!!
Namaste lovely yogis!!
P.S I will be in Spain all summer enjoying the sun so if you feel like chatting send me a message on FB Natalie Kirkland or Mini Me Yoga UAE xxxx
About Natalie Kirkland
My name is Natalie Kirkland and I am a wife, mother to little Willow and ambassador of Mini Me Yoga in the UAE. I have lived in the Sandpit which is the nickname of the fabulous Abu Dhabi, for over 5 years now and love my life in the sun!! I met the lovely Kate Bartram-Brown through a mutual friend here and have never looked back. I adore teaching the Mini Me Workshops and spreading the word of Yoga and positive thinking to the multicultural society I live in. I also teach Ashtanga Yoga, Bootcamps, and lead groups who learn about Fat loss, digestive health, Nutrition and clean eating.
Some years after completing my Sports Science degree, my passion has evolved into researching Nutrition, Health and Wellness and now I have a strong focus on this subject in relation to children as I recently had a baby!! I am currently studying to become a Naturopathic Nutritionist.
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